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Six Philly cops cleared in corruption case

PHILADELPHIA -- A federal jury in Philadelphia today returned a not-guilty verdict on all counts for six former city police narcotics officers charged in a broad corruption case.

CBS Philadelphia reports there were gasps from family members in the courtroom when the first verdict was announced on the most serious charge of racketeering. Then, silence prevailed as the subsequent verdicts were read, with family members in the gallery holding hands or covering their mouths.

The verdict followed seven days of deliberations.

The officers, who were in the police department's elite narcotics squad, had been accused of roughing up drug suspects, pocketing seized cash, and lying on police reports to cover up a long series of actions between 2006 and 2010.

One former officer, Jeffrey Walker, has pleaded guilty to official corruption and had been working with federal investigators to build the case against his six former colleagues.

Defense attorney Jeff Miller argued that the government's case was built around the testimony of about 20 drug dealers and one dirty cop looking for leniency.

"You don't run with a case when you have a bunch of dirtballs as witnesses," Miller said.

Outside the federal courthouse in center city Philadelphia, one of the acquitted officers, Thomas Liciardello said, "I just want to thank the jury for their verdict. They believed in us. I just want to get on with my life."

He said he will seek to get his old job back.

Prosecutors said they are disappointed in the outcome.

"We knew from the beginning of this case this was going to be a very difficult case to bring, a case that had to be brought, and we don't regret that decision," Assistant US attorney Anthony Wzorek said.