Accused newsstand thief not guilty

July 18, 2008 3:58:40 AM PDT
The man accused of hauling off and stealing a half dozen newsstands in Philadelphia has been found not guilty by a jury of his peers.44-year-old Fatai King was relieved, if not jubilant, late Thursday after a common pleas court found him not guilty:

From the get go, this was a strange case. King, a veteran merchant in Philadelphia, had been accused of hauling off 6 independently owned street corner newsstands back in 2006 and moving them elsewhere without notifying the owners and then attempting to move his own newsstands in their place.

"We thought that the evidence was more than sufficient to prove the charges of theft and receiving stolen property beyond a reasonable doubt," District Attorney Drew Dedo said.

King maintains he had permission from somewhere in the bureaucracy of L & I to do this after it was determined the newsstands were abandoned. He says he paid the agency $3,000 in fees, but when it turned out the newsstands had not been abandoned, King says the official at L & I claimed to have lost his paperwork and left him holding the bag.

"And then she said, 'I didn't tell you that', I said 'No, that's what you told me and then she said she didn't want to talk to me," King said.

"He allegedly talked to L & I and that was disputed by Regina Marrow from L&I and he had no paperwork from L&I authorizing him to move those newsstands," Dedo said.

The jury sided with King, who has decided he no longer has any interests in doing business in the city.

"It's over. I don't want to go through anything with the city of Philadelphia and L&I no more," King said.

His lawyer has a message for Mayor Michael Nutter on how to fix problems at L & I.

Start over from scratch. He may have to go in there and fire everybody and start all over again, so something like this doesn't happen to somebody else like Mr. King," Randolph Goldman said.

Action News attempted to get reaction from the city and L & I, but despite several attempts, they did not respond.