The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 10, 2004 · Page B02
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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page B02

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Page B02
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B2 C South Jersey THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Saturday, July 10, 2004 Nine are injured in Camden fire A family was left homeless. Three men, one who lived in the house, tried in vain to quell the flames. By Kathleen Brady Shea INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Surrounded by beaming relatives, many of whom had traveled from Puerto Rico for the occasion, Chester County Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez joined the federal bench of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania yesterday. The induction ceremony took place at the Chester County Courthouse, where Sanchez had served as a jurist since 1998. About 300 people filled Courtroom One as Sanchez, 48, took the oath from U.S. District Chief Judge James T. Giles. An overflow crowd estimated at 100 watched on a TV screen in another courtroom. About half a dozen speakers offered glimpses into Sanchez's background. A native of Puerto Rico, he came to the U.S. at the age of 13 because his divorced mother was determined to improve her children's lives. His family landed at a Bronx housing project. Gary S. Wallach, Sanchez's seventh-grade English teacher in the Bronx, said Sanchez's "Fort Apache" neighborhood was "infamous enough to have a movie made about it." He said that despite Sanchez's poor command of English, he showed "the first glimmer" of his promising future by arguing his way into an advanced class. James E. McErlane, a veteran West Chester lawyer and Sanchez mentor, made note of Sanchez's optimism. SRe IPftilaMpftiaHnquirer Sales and Delivery For questions regarding service complaints, billing inquires, vacation stops, or Easy Pay please contact our Customer Service Department at our website, or call: Philadelphia 215-665-1234 Outside Philadelphia 800-222-2765 The Service Center is open Monday through Friday 6:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. We guarantee that your paper will be delivered to you by 6:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and by 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Please call by 10 a.m. daily or by 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday if you do not receive your paper and we will deliver a replacement. For your convenience you can call Customer Service 24 hours a day, seven days a week and use our automated voice response system or leave a message for Customer Service. Mail Subscriptions 215-854-4790 Newsstand Sales 21 5-854-2740 School Delivery 215-854-5537 Hearing Impaired (TDD) 215-854-2630 Home-delivery rates (weekly): Daily $3, Sunday $1.75. DailySunday $4.75. Some areas are subject to an additional delivery charge. The issues of 420, 427 and 54 will be delivered to Sunday-only subscribers. The cost is included in the subscription price. Single-copy rates: Daily $0.50, Sunday $1 .50 in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Philadelphia, Chester, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, Cape May, Ocean, Atlantic and New Castle Counties. Outside these areas, daily $0.75, Sunday $1 .75. Mail subscription rates (four weeks): Daily $27, Sunday $13, DailySunday $40. Advertising To place, correct or cancel an ad: Retail and National 215-854-5450 TriClassifieds 1-800-341-3413 Death notices 21 5-854-5800 Legal ads 215-854-5834 Neighbors (Pa.) 215-854-4877 Neighbors (N.J.) 856-779-3823 For advertising billing questions: Weekly advertising bills 215-665-9222 Monthly advertising bills 215-854-4768 Outside the PA Area 1 -800-445-3480 To contact all other departments: Main switchboard, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmMrmmmmm iTSM mm WM mmwmmmWmmVmlmmimmw SCOTT S. HAMRICK Inquirer Suburban Staff Moments after taking his oath as a federal judge, Juan Sanchez, who was born in Puerto Rico, is helped into his robe by his sons (unseen behind him) as his family looks on: His mother, Carmen, his brother Rafael (left), and his fiancee, Damaris Acevedo, with the Bible. While a mentor spoke of his optimism, the judge thanked his parents. Chester County Judge Sanchez joins the federal bench in Pa. Just before taking his oath, Judge Sanchez shows off a watercolor given him by his colleagues on the Court of Common Pleas. Sanchez was the first Latino to be admitted to the Chester County bar. Artist Nancy Thompson did the painting of the courthouse. "When Juan Sanchez wakes up in the morning, he knows it is going to be a good day," said McErlane, "because he will make it a good day." News Corrections and comments: The Inquirer wants its news report to be fair and correct in every respect, and regrets when it is not. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, write to Reader Advocate, The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101, call 215-854-2425, or e-mail To contact the news departments: Business News 215-854-2450 City Desk 215-854-4500 Editorial Board 215-854-4531 Entertainment 215-854-5617 Foreign Desk 215-854-2400 Magazine (Daily) 215-854-5797 National Desk 215-854-2410 New Jersey Desk 856-779-3840 PennsylvaniaSuburban ... 610-313-8000 Photography 215-854-2620 Sports (after 10 a.m.) 215-854-4550 Sports Dial-a-score 215-854-2500 Weekend Section listings 215-854-5600 To contact the news bureaus: Atlantic City 609-823-9626 Bucks County 215-702-7800 Burlington County 856-779-3835 Camden 856-966-0288 Cherry Hill 856-779-3840 Chester County 610-701-7600 Delaware County 610-313-8000 Doylestown 215-348-0337 Gloucester County 856-779-3830 Harrisburg 717-787-5934 Main Line 610-313-8000 Montgomery County 610-313-8000 Trenton 609-989-8990 Public Services Reprints and permissions: For reprints (100 or more): 800-290-5460 Ext. 155 For other permission requests 215-854-4529 The Inquirer is available electronically from 1983 through Dialog Information Services. Check with your local public library. For back issues or ad payments, our service counter at 400 N. Broad St. is open 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday 215-854-4444 215-854-2000 For Sanchez, yesterday went well beyond good; and he spent about 15 minutes thanking supporters, colleagues, and especially his parents, both of whom No loan for church tied to commerce secretary ASSOCIATED PRESS TRENTON An $11.5 million loan offer to a church affiliated with Commerce Secretary William D. Watley was canceled by the state after it was determined he was part of a partnership that would have received the money, according to a published report. The Newark Star-Ledger reported that state officials found Wat-ley and his former chief of staff Lesly Devereaux did not indicate on financial disclosure forms that they held positions with a company connected to the church's loan application to the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. Micah Rasmussen, spokesman for Gov. McGreevey, said an investigation was being conducted into Watley's actions. "The administration does not believe a state official should represent a party other than the state in connection with a matter before any state agency," Rasmussen told the Star-Ledger for yesterday's editions. "That is why the project application was rejected and the administration has referred the matter to the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards." The loan for construction at St. James AME Church in Newark, where Watley is pastor, had been approved by the HMFA earlier this year. But it came under scrutiny after state inves attended the ceremony. "My parents taught me compassion for the plight of others and the value of hard work," he said. "My essence as a man emanates from their everyday living example." The first Latino lawyer to be admitted to the Chester County bar, Sanchez was the fourth judge in the last month to join the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Gene E.K. Pratter, of Bryn Mawr, a partner with Duane Morris LLP in Philadelphia, was sworn in on June 18; Paul Diamond, of Philadelphia, a partner at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP in Philadelphia, was sworn in on June 25; and Lancaster County Common Pleas Judge Lawrence Stengel had his swearing-in on June 28. Also on June 28, Franklin S. Van Antwerpen, who had served on the federal bench in the Eastern District, was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The confirmations occurred after the White House and Senate Democrats struck a deal to end a logjam that had stalled the process. Bush agreed to halt "recess appointments," an executive privilege that allows him to place judges on the bench and bypass Senate approval. Democrats agreed not to hold up votes on about 30 nominees awaiting confirmation. Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-701-7625 or tigators raided Devereaux's Commerce and Economic Growth Commission offices as part of a separate probe. Watley is on the board of directors and Devereaux is the registered agent of Ku'Umba Corp., a Newark company involved in a partnership with the church. Landex Corp., a Maryland real estate developer, is also involved in the partnership that would have received the loan. The HMFA approved a "declaration of intent" for the loan last fall and approved a mortgage commitment for the corporation in February. But Marge Delia Vecchia, executive director of the HMFA, said she became concerned when she recognized Devereaux's name on another application to the agency for another project by the church in Jersey City. She said she soon found the connection between Watley and Devereaux and the Newark project. "When it came to my attention it raised a red flag because I knew all of the parties involved," Delia Vecchia. Rita Strmensky, executive director of the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards, advised Delia Vecchia to cancel the loan, the newspaper reported. Watley did not respond to telephone messages from the Associated Press seeking comment. By Sam Wood INQUIRER STAFF WRITER A fast-moving fire left a Camden family homeless yesterday, with nine people injured and three in critical condition. The blaze broke out shortly after 4:30 a.m. on the 900 block of North 22d Street in the city's Cramer Hill section. According to neighbors, a security guard working the front gate at a factory across the street was the first to try to rescue the family after he spotted flames at the two-story row-house. Known to neighbors only as Rudy, the guard rushed to the house with a fire extinguisher and tried to break down the back door. When the smoke and heat became too intense, the guard and another worker from the Magnetic Metals plant ran to the front of the house and used the fire extinguisher as a battering ram, knocking the front door off its hinges. "He was the one who woke everybody up," said Deyanery Solis, who lives in the adjoining rowhouse with her husband and two small children. "I heard him, woke up, saw the flames pouring from the front window, and got my husband and kids out of the house," said Solis. Rudy and the other man, Corky Nulls, entered the burning house and attempted to snuff out the fire in the living room with their extinguishers. Extreme heat, Solis said, forced them to retreat. Solis called 911. Within four minutes, firefighters were battling the blaze. Lucy Malavet, who lives several doors down, remembers looking at her alarm clock at 4:28 a.m. when she first woke to hear the commotion down the street. "I heard Maria, the mother, screaming 'Help me! Help me!' " Malavet said. "I could hear the kids screaming, 'Mommy! Mommy!' " Police shoot man sought in deaths By Sam Wood and Troy Graham INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS A man wanted for questioning in the deaths of two Camden residents was shot and critically wounded by police yesterday after he threatened detectives with a pair of scissors, authorities said. Investigators had been searching for Groucho M. Keys, 52, since they discovered the body of Keys' uncle in a North 23d Street home Thursday morning. Later that evening, they discovered the body of the uncle's girlfriend hidden under blankets, pillows and clothes in an upstairs bedroom. Keys lived with the couple for about two years, neighbors said. Two Camden police detectives and an investigator from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office spotted Keys yesterday about 3:45 p.m. as he was walking near Baird Boulevard and Randolph Street in Camden. The officers approached Keys on foot and identified themselves. Keys then drew a sharp object and threatened Camden Police Detective Wayne Matthews, authorities said. "Matthews began to back up, drew his service weapon, and repeatedly ordered Keys to stop and drop his weapon," according to Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi. "However, Keys continued to advance while wielding the sharp object in a menacing manner." Matthews then fired three shots, striking Keys at least twice in the torso. A pair of scissors was recovered from the scene. Keys was taken to Cooper University Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition last night, authorities said. Prosecutors plan to lodge aggravated assault and weapons charges against him. Matthews was placed on routine administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting, which will be conducted by a special unit within the Prosecutor's Office. Detectives wanted to question Keys in the deaths of Sam Harris, 64, and Linda Neely, 55. Both Yet another worker at Magnetic Metals, Nancy Santos, said that security cameras mounted outside the plant caught the drama on videotape. Within 15 minutes, firefighters had knocked down the fire and begun to pull the victims from the charred house. "It was sad," said Solis. "They were all coming out unconscious on stretchers." According to Malavet, all nine victims were blackened from head to toe with burns and smoke. Fire officials said that while Luis Silva, 30, was trying to put out the fire in the living room, he was burned over 50 percent of his body. Solis said that Luis and Maria Silva moved into the brick house at the end of the row around Christmas with Angelica, 13, Jennifer, 9, and Carlos, 6, Maria's three children. "That family had a big heart," said neighbor Miguel Santiago. According to Santiago, the family had opened its home to Silva's sister, Iris Rivera, her husband, Roberto Rodrigues, and their sons, Victor and Jesus Perez. Santiago said the newcomers had recently arrived from Puerto Rico and had lived with the Silvas for the last two weeks. Maria Silva, 28, her daughter Angelica, and Luis Silva, were in critical condition last night at the Crozer-Chester Burn Center in Upland, Delaware County. The six other victims were also being treated there. Camden County Fire Marshal Ralph Roberts commended the work of Engine Company 11 for its speedy response to the blaze. "If it wasn't for their quick efforts," Roberts said, "instead of nine people in the hospital, you'd have nine people dead." The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 856-779-3838 or at were found in their Cramer Hill home on Thursday. A relative discovered Harris' body in the basement about 8 a.m. After obtaining a search warrant for the home, investigators discovered the body of Neely, who lived with Harris, about 6:30 p.m. Harris, who was Keys' uncle, died of multiple stab and chop wounds to the upper body and head. Neely died from head trauma, according to an autopsy. Keys has not been named a suspect in the deaths, but he had not been seen since the bodies were discovered. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the scissors were used to kill Harris, authorities said. On Thursday afternoon, Harris and Neely were to have flown to Florida, where they had planned to vacation with relatives, their next-door neighbor said. "My daughter was going to take them to the airport," said Gail Washington, who described Harris and his girlfriend as "good neighbors." Washington said a male relative of Harris' came to her door Thursday morning and asked her to go into the house with him after he failed to get Harris on the telephone. "I saw him dead," Washington said. "It's hard to get that out of your head." "We were hoping Harris' girlfriend would have turned up alive. Her car was still in the backyard," Washington said. Harris and Neely were among four people found slain in Camden in a 10-hour period this week. Matthew J. Dunlap, 19, was gunned down about 10:25 Wednesday night during a confrontation over a $45 debt, authorities said. About an hour later, Darnell A. Branch, 19, was gunned down near the corner of Highland and Myrtle Avenues. It remained unclear yesterday whether the shootings of Dunlap and Branch were related, Sarubbi said, but the shootings are not related to the killings in Cramer Hill. Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 856-779-3838 or at

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