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
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.
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