Northeast Times

Charge dropped in Tacony dungeon case

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A Phil­adelphia judge has thrown out neg­lect of care charges against three de­fend­ants ac­cused of im­pris­on­ing, beat­ing and starving four men­tally dis­abled people in a Ta­cony base­ment last year to steal their So­cial Se­cur­ity in­come.

But ringlead­er Linda Ann We­st­on and her al­leged co-con­spir­at­ors still face nu­mer­ous felony charges in­clud­ing ag­grav­ated as­sault and kid­nap­ping. We­st­on, 51; Gregory Thomas, 47; and Ed­die Wright, 50, are sched­uled to go to tri­al in Janu­ary, along with We­st­on’s daugh­ter, Jean McIn­tosh.

Com­mon Pleas Judge Daniel J. An­ders ruled on June 8 that We­st­on, Thomas and Wright were not the leg­ally des­ig­nated care­givers of the four vic­tims, so the neg­lect charges should not ap­ply. McIn­tosh, 32, was not charged with neg­lect and did not ap­pear in court last week.

We­st­on was the des­ig­nated pay­ee for the vic­tims’ dis­ab­il­ity checks, al­though she pock­eted the money and kept the naïve vic­tims in the dark with the help of Thomas, Wright and McIn­tosh, au­thor­it­ies claim.

The de­fend­ants al­legedly op­er­ated the scheme for more than a dec­ade, trans­port­ing and im­pris­on­ing vic­tims in sev­er­al states in­clud­ing Texas, Flor­ida and Vir­gin­ia.

Po­lice res­cued four vic­tims last Oct. 15 from the damp, cold, dark and dirty base­ment of an apart­ment build­ing on the 4700 block of Long­shore Ave. after the land­lord dis­covered them and called 911.

At last week’s pre-tri­al mo­tions hear­ing, An­ders also quashed a charge of pro­mot­ing pros­ti­tu­tion against We­st­on, who al­legedly had forced a fe­male vic­tim, while out­side Pennsylvania, to have sex with oth­ers for cash.

At­tor­neys for Thomas and Wright sought sep­ar­ate tri­als for their cli­ents, but the judge re­fused to grant them. Thomas’ at­tor­ney, Perry de Marco Jr., re­portedly ar­gued that We­st­on’s grow­ing in­famy could neg­at­ively im­pact his cli­ent at tri­al. Au­thor­it­ies have iden­ti­fied Thomas as We­st­on’s long­time boy­friend.

Mean­while, Wright’s at­tor­ney, Louis D’Ono­frio, ar­gued that We­st­on vic­tim­ized his cli­ent, who au­thor­it­ies have de­scribed as a home­less “street preach­er.”

We­st­on, Thomas and Wright re­main in jail in lieu of $2 mil­lion bail, while McIn­tosh re­mains in jail in lieu of $1 mil­lion bail. The case is sched­uled for an­oth­er pre-tri­al mo­tions hear­ing on Aug. 2. ••

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You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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