By: Joe Strupp
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in a $3.5 million defamation case against The Citizens Voice of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in which claims of a conspiracy between two judges and a convicted mobster have been raised.
The Citizens Voice reported Thursday that the state high court ordered a new trial in the case in which Thomas A. Joseph, a former business associate of William “Big Billy” D’Elia — reputed head of a local crime family — had been defamed by the paper and awarded $3.5 million.
“The defamation suit stemmed from stories published in The Citizens Voice about federal raids at Joseph’s Pittston business and Mountain Top home and D’Elia’s home in Hughestown in 2001,” the paper stated. “A search warrant affidavit filed in federal court indicated agents suspected that D’Elia and Joseph were engaged in money laundering. Joseph, 65, was never charged in the case. D’Elia, 63, is serving nine years on unrelated money-laundering and witness-tampering charges.”
But lawyers for The Citizens Voice presented evidence at a hearing that D’Elia allegedly conspired with former President Judge Michael T. Conahan to secure a ruling against the newspaper in favor of Joseph. That evidence led to the Supreme Court ruling.
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