Ex-Top Cop Danny Castro Won't Go Straight to Prison

Castro promised he won't talk to the media and begged to spend the rest of his free time with his mother.

Philadelphia's former top cop Danny Castro won't have to go straight to prison, after promising a federal judge that he'd stop talking to the media. And Castro also begged the judge to let him stay with his mother until he has to report to prison on November 15.

Castro was sentenced last Tuesday to five years in federal prison for conspiring to commit extortion, despite emotional testimony from 15 witnesses, including his own mother and city councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, who all pleaded for leniency. Instead, the judge gave Castro an even harsher sentence than expected.

Three days after his sentencing, federal prosecutors asked for a hearing to revoke Castro's bail and have him sent straight to prison, based on his behavior right after his sentencing. Castro talked to reporters outside the courthouse that day, parading pictures of two men he said betrayed him. The ex-cop also rattled off accusations about each man.

Castro, 48, was a rising star in the Philadelphia police department who dreamed of one day being  Commissioner. During the down economy, he made a bad investment that cost him $60,000. When he couldn't get his money back, the feds say Castro found someone who could strong-arm the investor and consented to using physical force, if necessary. Castro didn't know it at the time, but the middle man he reached out to was working for the FBI.

During his trial, the jury found Castro guilty only of lying to the FBI. Jurors deadlocked on eight of the 10 charges against him. Rather than face a retrial, Castro pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion.

Castro's story has been that he was a victim -- betrayed by the two men whose pictures he held up after his sentencing. And his supporters contended that he was a good cop and a good citizen who had a temporary lapse in judgment. Prosecutors contended he didn't go from top cop to tarnished cop in a day or a moment, but that he behaved like a common criminal, repeatedly.

"He could have walked away, he could have stopped it and instead he went forward and encouraged it," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen after the October 4 sentencing.

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