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The primary reason Bill Cosby, a man convicted of sexual assault, is sitting at home right now instead of serving a 3 to 10 year sentence is because of a deal offered by a man who called himself “the sovereign of Montgomery County.”
That’s former Montco District Attorney Bruce Castor, and the Cosby release marks the second time his work has helped a high-profile American escape jail time in the past year.
The first was former President Donald Trump, whom Castor defended during the second impeachment trial.
Castor, a 59-year-old Abington native who got his law degree from Washington and Lee University, has also served on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and was solicitor general under former Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane. When Kane was convicted of her own perjury charges, Castor worked as acting attorney general for two weeks.
Over the course of a few decades, he has repeatedly accused opponents of corruption, while making a name for himself defending famous people against questionable charges like sexual misconduct or inciting an insurrection.
Here are some notable moments from Castor’s career.
When he tried to prove there was a conspiracy because he didn’t get an endorsement
When Castor ran for Pennsylvania Attorney General in the 2004 Republican primary, the race quickly got ugly.
Castor failed to secure an endorsement from the GOP’s southeastern chapter — a major loss since that’s the region he lives in. He went on the attack, accusing opponent Tom Corbett of backroom deals with committeeman Bob Asher, who was convicted of perjury, racketeering, conspiracy and bribery charges in the ’80s.
In return, Corbett questioned why Castor received more than $600k in contributions from retired businessman and President Reagan cabinet member Drew Lewis, suggesting there might be some kind of quid pro quo.
Turns out just three years before accepting the campaign cash, Castor did not seek jail time in a DUI charge against Lewis — even though Lewis’ blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit.
Ultimately, Castor’s strategy was not successful, and he lost to Corbett.
When he made the deal that would overturn Cosby’s conviction
In 2005, as Montgomery County DA, Castor struck a deal with Cosby that he said was in the name of “justice.”
Castor basically handed the comedian a get out of jail free card. Saying there was “insufficient credible and admissible evidence” to prosecute Cosby, Castor promised his lawyer Walter M. Phillips Jr. that he would not press criminal charges.
Castor called himself the “sovereign of Montgomery County” — saying his decision to grant effective immunity would last for “all time.”
The former DA has since claimed that he did that to motivate Cosby not to plead the Fifth Amendment in the ongoing civil deposition process. That way, Castor said, it was more likely Cosby would tell the truth in civil court, thereby giving accuser Andrea Constand a better chance of prevailing.
“My choices were to leave the case open and hope it got better or definitively close the case and allow the civil court to provide redress to Ms. Constand,” Castor testified in Cosby’s trial. “I did not think there was any possibility this case would ever get better.”
Constand sued Castor for defamation — and he sued her back, accusing her of trying to ruin his political career.
When he defended a pro basketball player accused of sexual assault
Memphis Grizzlies guard Marko Jaric was accused of sexual assault by a Philadelphia woman in 2009, over an something that happened the team was in town to play the 76ers.
Who’d the ball player hire to defend him? You guessed it.
Jaric retained Castor as counsel, and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office eventually ultimately decided not to file charges.
“Persons in Marko’s position are often the target of malicious statements and it is not unusual for the police to be asked to investigate,” Castor said at the time. “However, these allegations were proved to be completely false, and while Marko is extremely unsettled by these accusations, he is happy that the law enforcement authorities have cleared him of any criminal conduct and the issue can now be put to rest.”
When he fought with his fellow commissioners
Castor won a seat on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2007. Even though Castor was in the political majority, there was plenty of drama among the board’s members.
His colleagues, James Matthews and Joseph Hoeffel, formed an alliance against Castor — repeatedly shutting him out of county deals. The newly elected Castor responded by calling the two of them corrupt, and suggesting they were mismanaging county finances and hiring unqualified people.
Matthews was later charged with perjury, but Hoeffel was never charged with any criminal wrongdoing.
When he was Kathleen Kane’s right hand man
Former Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who was convicted of perjury for leaking grand jury information and then lying about it, arranged a meeting with Castor in March 2016.
He suspected she would ask him to defend her in her perjury case — but she didn’t. Instead, Kane hand-picked Castor for a new position she was calling solicitor general. Since she was facing charges, her law license was temporarily suspended, and she wanted Castor to come on board and make legal decisions for the state in her absence.
When Kane was convicted, Castor became acting attorney general.
Castor was apparently thrilled to finally get the job he didn’t win 12 years earlier: “I like effectively being the attorney general without having to worry about the politics end of it. I’ve pretty much trained my whole life to do a job like this.”
He held the position for two weeks before being replaced by Allegheny County judge Bruce Beemer.
When he defended Trump during the second impeachment (and confused everyone)
With about a week until his second impeachment trial began, former President Trump selected Castor and defense attorney David Schoen as his legal team.
That didn’t leave Castor much time to prepare — and it showed.
The former Pennsylvania official spoke first, and delivered what the New York Times called “a rambling, almost somnambulant defense” for almost an hour. (Somnambulant means resembling or like a sleepwalker. Burn.) Sources close to Trump said the president was “furious” with Castor’s performance, and others were quick to criticize him.
“There is no argument,” said attorney Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s defense team during the first impeachment trial, said on the conservative cable news network Newsmax. “I have no idea what he’s doing. I have no idea why he’s saying what he’s saying.”
“I thought I knew where it was going,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters that day, “and I really didn’t know where it was going.”
When he went on to defend the insurrectionists
An impeachment brief written by Trump’s defense team, including Castor, defended the former president, but threw the participants in the January 6 insurrection under the bus — saying they brought “unprecedented havoc, mayhem and death” to the Capitol.
But then Castor ended up defending some of the same insurrectionists.
Kristina Malimon, 28, and her mother Yevgeniya, 54, were arrested outside the Capitol building on Jan. 6 and charged with unlawful entry of public property. Last year, Malimon organized a boat parade in Oregon to support the former president which ended up sinking another boat in its path.
Last month, they picked Castor to represent them.