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$1.65M Settlement, Apology from Montgomery County DA for Builder Wrongfully Accused of Stealing from Church

Attorney Mark W. Tanner secured a $1.65 million settlement and a public apology from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office for a Radnor businessman who was wrongfully accused of stealing more than $370,000 from Salem Baptist Church, in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.

Walter Logan had spent 40 years building a successful construction firm only to see his business, his finances, and his good name destroyed when he was arrested on bogus charges of theft that the church pushed ― using its connections in the District Attorney’s Office ― to gain leverage in a contract dispute.

Logan’s five-year-long ordeal began in 2007 when Salem Baptist abruptly terminated a contract with his firm for work on a $3.2 million family center on the church campus. When Logan insisted on being paid for his work, the church refused and Logan exercised his rights under the contract to take the dispute to arbitration. As the arbitration approached, the church sought to gain a tactical advantage by approaching the District Attorney with false accusations that Logan had stolen the large sum of money and left Salem Baptist on the hook for paying subcontractors on the project.

The county’s chief detective who supervised the investigation was a member of the church, and the county inappropriately relied on the church’s legal team to help build its case.

During a very public arrest in 2009, Logan was intentionally paraded before TV news cameras and rebuked by then-District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. “For someone to steal from a church is really very low,” Ferman said during a TV interview.

A few months after Logan’s arrest, the independent arbitrator for the contractual dispute ruled that it was actually Salem Baptist that owed Logan more than $300,000 and that the church’s claims that Logan had engaged in any wrongdoing were “completely without merit.”

Tanner represented Logan in a federal civil lawsuit seeking damages against the District Attorney’s Office and the church for unlawful arrest, defamation and malicious prosecution. In May 2014, the District Attorney’s Office settled with Logan for $1.65 million and issued a public apology that reads in part:

“The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office apologizes to Mr. Logan for the arrest and any statements made to the press regarding the arrest. There is no credible evidence that Mr. Logan ever stole anything from Salem Baptist Church, and we retract any statements to that effect previously made to the media. We will work with Mr. Logan to facilitate the expungement of all records of his arrest.”

Logan subsequently reached a confidential settlement with Salem Baptist in September 2014, shortly after Tanner began trying his case against the church before a jury.