By Paul Davis
Ralph Cipriano, an award-winning journalist and former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer, is a veteran investigative reporter who has exposed corruption in government, police departments, Ivy League football and the Catholic Church.
He is also the author of Courtroom Cowboy, a biography of Philadelphia lawyer Jim Beasley, The Hit Man, which chronicled the life of former mobster-turned-government-witness John Veasey, and Target: The Senator, A Story About Power and Abuse of Power, which is about the life of former Pennsylvania power broker Vincent J. Fumo,
Ralph Cipriano is also the investigative reporter who has been on the Larry Krasner beat for several years. He has debunked Krasner’s claims and statistics, pointed out the DAs failings, and he routinely confronts Krasner at the District Attorney’s press conferences.
Cipriano offers his lengthy fact-based posts on Krasner on his Big Trial platform on Substack.
I reached out to Ralph Cipriano and asked him how he would describe Big Trial.
“Big Trial started as a court blog while I was working for Jim Beasley’s law firm, so I would cover cases,” Cipriano replied. “I think the first one I ever covered was the Senator Fumo trial, and after that I did the Archdiocese cases. We ended up covering a lot of the sex abuse cases in the Archdiocese.”
Cipriano said that Big Trial was funded by a sponsor, and former Inquirer reporter George Anastasia was his partner. They covered mob trials and other criminal trials.
“After we lost our sponsor and George decided to basically retire and become a full-time professor and full-time grandfather, I ended up doing the blog for seven years as a freebee. I just thought I owed it to journalism as nobody else was filling that void. I moved Big Trial over to Substack in October of 2022. I was thinking that I can’t justify doing this for free forever. It’s now doing a modest return, but it sort of justifies my time. Basically, the blog became almost a full-time job.
“The Big Trial that is on Substack now is still a court-centered blog, but we’ve sort of gotten a little more political. I think that Philadelphia has perhaps its worst mayor of all time in Jim Kenney, and it certainly has its worst District Attorney of all time in Larry Krasner. The Philadelphia Inquirer is basically the Daily Democrat, and they are always going to cover for Democrats. Form Joe Biden down to the election commissioners. There is no one stating the obvious; Philadelphia’s biggest problem is its pathetic leadership.”
Cipriano noted that Larry Krasner’s social experiment at the DA office has been a complete failure.
“He is just a liar. He lies about everything. If you go to RalphCipriano.com and read the summary of my career in journalism, I have a whole page of toxic justice devoted to Larry Krasner. There are 80 stories on it and it’s all about the dangerous arch criminals that he let out of jail who then went out to maim and kill other people.
“And there are also the screw ups that he employs in his office, and all of the lies I’ve caught him in, and all of the people who got slaughtered along the way with Larry’s utopian criminal justice reform,” Cipriano said. “I just feel like I’m an old guy who could be retired and out on the golf course, but I see a need to cover Philly’s leadership, as no one is holding these people accountable. The progressive kids at the Inquirer aren’t going to do it, and their out-of-town editors are going to do it.”
I told Cipriano that I think he does great work. His long stories are comprehensive, fact-based, and illuminating in regard to the actions of our mayor, DA and the former police commissioner. He has a good number of sources, and many of them are disgruntled cops. I particularly like his posts on his appearances at Larry Krasner’s press conferences.
The DA has had police officers escort Cipriano out of the press conference. He has ignored Cipriano’s questions, and when he has responded to Cipriano’s questions, they joust over comments and stated facts.
Cipriano complained that today’s local journalists don’t believe it is their job to hold officials accountable and chase the facts wherever they go. They seem to see themselves as progressive activists.
I asked Cipriano how his adversarial relationship with Krasner began.
“There were a bunch of people who were not happy with how Krasner was destroying the DA’s office. They used to talk to Julie Shaw at the Inquirer, but at some point, the Inquirer shut her down. They didn’t want anyone writing any negative stories about Larry Krasner,” Cipriano said. “So they started talking to me. There were a lot of cops at the time who were telling me stuff.
“When I first got started on the Krasner beat, I was writing about people he let out of jail that went on to maim, kill, and rape innocent people. I noticed that when the Inquirer would write a story about someone on the lam and did something horrible, they would not go into the guy’s background. They wouldn’t call up the court file, the court records, and see that this guy chopped somebody up. I’m thinking of this one particular guy that Larry let out of jail because he was worried that he was going to get Covid. Larry let a ton of people out of jail.”
That’s why Krasner is called “Let ‘Em Loose Larry,” I noted.
“Yeah. So, there was this guy Larry let out, and the next time he runs into law enforcement he’s riding in a U-Haul truck and there is a headless torso in the back of the U-Haul. He killed this 70-year-old masseuse and chopped him up and sold everything in his house. And when Sgt. O’ Connor was killed, all of those gangbangers and drug dealers should have been in jail. I wrote about their records. And that’s really how this started. I was writing about their criminal records.
“The guy who killed the dogwalker just got out of jail, and there was an 80-year-old grandfather who was withdrawing $400 dollars for his granddaughter, and he gets robbed and killed while he’s at the ATM. The stories go on and on.”
Cipriano said he was amazed that no one else in Philadelphia was checking the background of these criminals, and Larry Krasner would not address it.
“I was emailing him questions for three years and he never once responded. I saw he had these press conferences, so I started showing up. In July of 2022, I started attending his weekly press conferences. He refused to notify me of press conferences, so I had to ask other reporters if Krasner was having a press conference. He was very belligerent. He would only talk to reporters who buy into his bullshit. He would ignore me and not call on me. He would typically call on every other reporter and then he would literally run away from me rather than answer my question.
“I just pushed it, and pushed it and pushed it, and two times he actually had his detectives evict me. And then he fell into this pattern of always calling on me last, and if he didn’t like my questions, he just leaves. So we would go round and round and round. Typically, I’m the only person he limits the amount of questions that they can ask. I’m the only person he berates and criticizes and attacks at press conferences. I’m the only person that was evicted.”
Have you thought of suing him? I asked.
“If I sue him, then I have to stop covering him. But it is unconstitutional. You can’t discriminate or treat one reporter differently because you don’t agree with what he writes or don’t share his viewpoint,” Cipriano explained.
Cipriano spoke of Krasner exonerations of convicted murderers, stating that there are no witnesses who show up in court and are examined or cross-examined. There is no testing of the evidence in the traditional adversarial criminal justice system.
“Instead, you got backroom deals. You have defense lawyers coming in to see Larry and he has a bunch of former public defenders masquerading as prosecutors. They cut a deal with the defense lawyers and say this 20 or 30-year-old murder case we found these egregious allegations of either prosecutorial or police misconduct, or both,” Cipriano said. “And so, they will agree among themselves that they ought to let this convicted killer out of jail. They will go into court and a judge will be facing the district attorney’s office and the defense lawyers and they will be asking for the same thing. They are asking for a new trial for whoever.”
It seems to me that these progressive DAs have removed the adversarial relationship in court entirely. The assistant DAs are not prosecutors, they are radical advocates, I noted.
Yes. There are two public defenders, and no one represents the victim or the crime victim’s family, and no one represents the public,” Cipriano said. “So Krasner has found a new way of letting convicted killers out of jail. I’ve asked him, over and over again, out of the 30 cases where you let convicted killers out of jail, how many times have you found the real killer? He’s never answered that question.”
He blames the police department, stating that is their job, I said.
“Basically, we’ve been sold a hundred million dollars bill of goods here. Every time we’ve gotten a peek behind the curtain, we see that Krasner’s prosecutors are lying to judges routinely, they’re hiding the evidence, and they are willfully ignoring the crime victims. There is no reason for the public to have any confidence in any of these exonerations.
“I’ve covered his prosecution of gun crimes. He has never explained why he is always going for sentences that are way, way below the sentencing guidelines. He basically believes in giving everybody a break,” Cipriano said. “His office is so fricking incompetent. If Larry Krasner thinks you’re a prosecutor, you’re probably not.”
I’ve noted here before that it seems that he hires lawyers more for their progressive views than their prosecutorial expertise.
“Yeah, and they don’t have any. He hires kids out of law school and public defenders. That’s his idea of a progressive prosecutor’s office. There are only one or two people there who can try a case, and half the people he hires leave anyway, even if they agree with him, as he is such a terrible manager. There is a terrible turnover in the office, and no one knows what they are doing. Morale is in the tank.”
Cipriano said he has a list of all the miscreants and criminals in his office, and it is quite a list.
“Defense attorney Chuck Peruto told me that since Larry Krasner became the DA, he has never lost a case. He said it is so easy to beat his people because they are so incompetent, that there is no thrill of victory. Krasner has basically destroyed the District Attorney’s Office. It will take a generation to rebuild it.
“Krasner is a petty and vindictive person, and he uses the office to settle old scores. This guy has two priorities: letting convicted killers out of jail and putting as many cops as he can in jail.”
Paul Davis, a Philadelphia writer and frequent contributor to Broad + Liberty, also contributes to Counterterrorism magazine and writes the “On Crime” column for the Washington Times. He can be reached at pauldavisoncrime.com.