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And the verdict is ...

A federal jury found Billy Rinick guilty of all nine counts in his drug-trafficking trial.

By Lorraine Gennaro
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted Jan. 23, 2003

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Billy Rinick looked entirely too calm and happy Friday for a man staring down the barrel of possible life imprisonment for cocaine-trafficking.

As a federal marshal led the handcuffed 30-year-old into courtroom 3A for closing arguments in his drug trial, Rinick smiled and winked at family members and miscellaneous well-wishers.

But the jig was up -- as South Philly's own tough guy would find out soon enough.

After two hours of deliberation Friday, the 16-member jury could not reach a verdict. But after reconvening Tuesday morning, the nine-woman, seven-man jury convicted Rinick of all nine counts against him, including one count of conspiracy, seven counts of distribution, and one count of distribution within 1,000 feet of a school, said the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The former South Camac Street resident was charged with running a drug operation that moved 50 to 70 kilograms of cocaine on the streets of Philadelphia between June 1998 and January 2002, said U.S. Attorney Barry Gross, the lead prosecutor in the case.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms could result in a life sentence, confirmed a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"We were very pleased with the verdict and we feel we've done our job by helping to take someone who was dealing cocaine and was dangerous off the street," Gross said shortly after the verdict was handed down.

Rinick's drug trial before U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno began Jan. 10 and ended exactly one week later, with compelling closing arguments from both sides.

Gross' co-counsel, Erik Olsen, a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief Deputy Attorney General, opened his closing argument by instructing the jury to "focus on the facts." He then gave a blow-by-blow account of all nine charges against Rinick, highlighting the more incriminating evidence that he thought would seal the accused's fate on each charge.

The big guns stockpiled in the prosecution's arsenal were the tapes -- more than 80 secretly recorded conversations and surveillance shots that they claimed would cinch the government's case against Rinick.

Rinick did not utter the words "cocaine" or "drugs" in any of the taped transactions. Instead, he used code words like "cell phones," "pretzels" and "T-shirts." Olsen said smugly to the jury, "Billy Rinick was in the cell phone business, now he's a baker."

Two key government witnesses included Sam Pollino and Michael "FX" Focoso, both of whom pleaded guilty to drug-trafficking charges. Pollino, with a prior conviction in Bucks County, agreed to wear a wire and record several conversations with Rinick in which drugs and money were exchanged, Gross said.

Focoso is the man who changed his mind last year and agreed to cooperate with federal agents and testify against Rinick for shooting to death 21-year-old Adam Finelli, a.k.a. Adam Silver. Rinick's murder trial in Common Pleas Court is scheduled for October. Focoso is the chief witness.


During a phone interview less than 18 hours before showtime, Rinick's co-counsel described the upcoming closing arguments as "The Big Shabang."

Rinick's lead counsel, Robert Levant of Levant Tauber and Martin, presented almost 90 minutes of closing. "The government's case was infected from the start with the predisposition to believe that Billy Rinick is a drug dealer and a mobster. Billy Rinick is not a drug dealer or mobster," the attorney said.

Throughout the trial, Rinick's legal team alleged the government got it all wrong: It was two of the prosecution's star witnesses, Pollino and Focoso, who were the drug dealers, not their client.

The defense contended that the two turncoats cut deals with the government and implicated Rinick in order to avoid prosecution on more serious drug charges. Focoso, 22, testified for two days that he sold drugs -- $2-million worth of cocaine -- under Rinick's orders.

Levant, in his closing, reiterated, "Mike Focoso is the drug dealer."

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 6 of 6
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1. joe said... on May 1, 2011 at 07:43PM

“i was on billy's payroll so to speak in cfcf the muslim thing happened but he didnt get hurt and others fought with him, i was offered money for further services when released but declined, i knew he killed the guy, but he didnt seem like a killer or even a toughguy, he's short with one leg i never got that part of the hype, we discussed some things, we talked about a cherry hill car dealer as im from nj, just case stuff, i had committed forgery wich was a bs charge but always thought damn this guys gonna die here, he never was convinced he could lose he thought he was going to appeal the fed time and be released, i liked billy he was fun to hang with while locked up and his stories passed the time, this all sucks and you know even a killer has a family thats innocent and misses them, billy was my friend i hope he's ok,”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jul 30, 2011 at 06:13PM

“I heard he hung it up a few years ago after he got the wheel and went upstate. I guess he couldn't deal with reality of a being a lifer”

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3. Anonymous said... on Aug 17, 2011 at 02:00AM

“I knew Billy since I was kid he lived right around the corner from me litterally as were both from Franklin & Ritner.I know everybody mentioned in the case. Billy didn't hang it up he's not weak and he's doing his time and didn't rat on nobody like his boys did to him. He was a big ball breaker pushing you borderline to want to fight him and he had stories for days but he was a good dude that made wrong choices.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Sep 19, 2011 at 03:33PM

“Screw Billy Rinick. Let him rot away in prison for the rest of his life and beyond. You all must know he devastated Adam's family and friends, changing their lives forever. He also brought shame to his own family – having to miss and love a murdered. Billy is in denial about the murder he committed, the drugs he dealt, the assaults he committed and the covert taping of 15 year old girls with whom he had sex with. And these are the crimes we know about. The man is delusional and a sociopath. Your life is NOT better having known him. Men like him is what is wrong with this world. He is vicious, impulsive and has no regard for right and wrong. What his "boys" did, aside from saving their own a**es, is make things right. Let him die in prison... alone and forgotten. It is still a better fate than the life he took away.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Oct 25, 2011 at 04:37PM

“Billy was always bad news,I lived down the street from him when he lived on camac st.He Used to "Hop" around talking and bragging How he's in the Mob and He killed people,I saw him jump in line at various stores,acting tough in front of women and children.I Carried a firearm when I lived in south philly,He never really messed with me;But one day I almost put a bullet in his head.Maybe if I would have done that,That Silver kid would still be alive.. Too bad,That scum wasn't worth me going to Jail for..I hope that Pos gets gang raped by a bunch of Blacks upstate!!!”

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6. Anonymous said... on Dec 26, 2012 at 12:37AM

“Billy Rinnick is scum. He is a murderer and a one legged loser . I hope he's having a good time getting raped in jail. But ya know , anyone who's such a tough guy wannabee usually has a secret to hide -aka he's enjoying being with dudes. Enjoy life in prison you douchebag loser”

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