Federal jury deems defendants not liable in CLIP lawsuit


A fed­er­al jury on Fri­day found not li­able all the de­fend­ants in a suit brought by a North­east man who claimed he was per­se­cuted by em­ploy­ees of the city’s Com­munity Life Im­prove­ment Pro­ject.

Steph­en Ten­good, 63, of Saul Street near Cottman, said CLIP work­ers and the city so­li­cit­or’s of­fice vi­ol­ated his civil rights and that CLIP em­ploy­ees har­assed him, tres­passed on his prop­erty and stole from him. He also had main­tained that CLIP was a cor­rupt or­gan­iz­a­tion.

The civil rights as­pect of Ten­good’s com­plaint put the suit in­to fed­er­al court, said Jef­frey Scott, who rep­res­en­ted the city.

In his suit, Ten­good said he was vic­tim­ized by base­less code vi­ol­a­tion cita­tions is­sued by CLIP work­ers and fur­ther stated the city so­li­cit­or’s of­fice backed the CLIP work­ers. He said CLIP work­ers tres­passed on his prop­erty to gath­er evid­ence that he was break­ing city codes, and that they re­moved some per­son­al prop­erty from out­side his prop­erty on two oc­ca­sions.

One of the de­fend­ants Ten­good had named was Rycharde Si­c­in­ski, who in Oc­to­ber pleaded guilty to steal­ing from four homes in the North­east.

Si­c­in­ski, a CLIP in­spect­or, was one of nine city work­ers who pleaded guilty to tak­ing a total of more than $108,000 in cash and per­son­al prop­erty. The case against him and the eight oth­er CLIP em­ploy­ees was men­tioned prom­in­ently in Ten­good’s suit.

Scott said the evid­ence presen­ted didn’t tie the oth­er de­fend­ants in Ten­good’s com­plaint to Si­c­in­ski or a crim­in­al con­spir­acy.

“This case was very com­plic­ated,” Scott said in a phone in­ter­view on Monday. “There were a lot of dots to be con­nec­ted, and the dots just wer­en’t con­nec­ted.”

“An ap­peal is pos­sible, however, un­likely at this stage,” Ten­good’s at­tor­ney, Joshua Up­in, stated in an e-mail to the North­east Times.

“It’s not un­com­mon for plaintiffs to file these types of cases,” said Eliza­beth Mat­tioni, chair­wo­man of the city so­li­cit­or’s lit­ig­a­tion group. “These were very ser­i­ous al­leg­a­tions, but the evid­ence wasn’t there to sup­port the claim.”

Be­sides the city, Si­c­in­ski and the city so­li­cit­or’s of­fice, Ten­good had named Thomas Con­way, CLIP’s co-dir­ect­or; Mar­tin Hig­gins, a CLIP in­spect­or; Roseanne Elia, a CLIP in­spect­or; and Beverly Penn, a deputy city so­li­cit­or.

CLIP was set up in 2002 to ad­dress qual­ity-of-life com­plaints in the North­east. In late 2009, after a long grand jury probe, the nine CLIP de­fend­ants were ar­res­ted. Four of the nine pleaded guilty to vari­ous charges be­fore a tri­al was sched­uled to start in Oc­to­ber 2011. An­oth­er de­fend­ant pleaded guilty be­fore jur­ors were se­lec­ted. The re­main­ing four pleaded after the jury was picked.

All agreed to make resti­tu­tion and all re­ceived pris­on sen­tences. No sen­tence was more than three years and most of the de­fend­ants were giv­en work re­lease. Some resti­tu­tion has been made, and some of that was drawn from the city pen­sions of four of the CLIP work­ers. ••


You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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