Krasner’s DAO

Philly’s chief homicide prosecutor demoted as murders reach three-decade high

DA Larry Krasner has replaced Anthony Voci with Chesley Lightsey as the person overseeing gun violence prosecutions.

Anthony Voci (left) with District Attorney Larry Krasner in 2019

Anthony Voci (left) with District Attorney Larry Krasner in 2019

Emma Lee / WHYY
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District Attorney Larry Krasner has demoted his chief homicide prosecutor Anthony Voci at a time when murders in the city are soaring to a three-decade record, according to a source close to the matter.

The decision came down yesterday from Krasner himself. Reasons for the abrupt shakeup have not been announced, though the veteran prosecutor landed in hot water recently over an alleged abuse of power.

Assistant prosecutor Chesley Lightsey will take over immediately as interim supervisor of homicides and non-fatal shootings, Krasner confirmed in a statement on Tuesday. The statement made made no mention of Voci.

Lightsey, a Mississippi native and Temple law school graduate, brings 12 years of experience as a prosecutor to the supervisory role.

“We face enormous challenges in policing and prosecution during this pandemic, including the fact that the court system is operating at a fraction of its capacity,” Lightsey said the statement. “Too many people are losing their lives or being harmed by senseless gun violence in Philadelphia and in nearly all major U.S. cities.”

The personnel shakeup comes at a time of soaring gun violence. Philadelphia has recorded 435 homicides to date so far this year — the highest annual count since 1993, with six weeks left in the year.

Jane Roh, the spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, did not respond to specific questions from Billy Penn.

“Today’s personnel announcement has nothing — zero — to do with homicide rate,” Roh said in a text message, after this article was published.

Voci, 57, has served 15 years with the DAO over the last three decades, first in the early 1990s under then-District Attorney Ron Castille, and later under his successor, District Attorney Lynne Abraham. Krasner appointed Voci head of the homicide unit after taking office in 2018.

The office would not confirm the exact circumstances around the demotion, but critics alleged the veteran prosecutor abused his power in a recent supposed “road rage” incident.

Voci made headlines in September after he attempted to stop a woman who he said tried to run him off the road on his motorcycle, the Inquirer reported. Police later tracked down the driver, towed her vehicle and charged her with numerous misdemeanors, based on Voci’s complaint.

The driver and her female passenger later claimed Voci referred to them as “Black bitches” — a complaint Voci, who is white, vehemently denied.

Krasner’s office assigns supervisors on an interim basis to allow for more fluid changes in leadership, the prosecutor said in a statement.

Voci has since been transferred to the Insurance Fraud Unit, Krasner told staff in a memo reviewed by Billy Penn. Assistant District Attorney Sherrell Dandy will serve as assistant to Lightsey in the homicide and non-fatal shooting unit.

 

 

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