Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.
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March 21–28, 2002

political notebook

He’s Baaaack

Michael Youngblood is making a comeback. The former aide to Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell is being released from federal prison next month after being convicted in April 1999 for extortion, tax evasion and other crimes when he was in charge of overseeing contractors in the homeless shelter called Deliverance.

When Political Notebook last interviewed Youngblood in August 1999 before he went away, he said he was going to get even with a lot of people who had put him there.

He had maintained his innocence and said he was a victim of a conspiracy.

Now that he’s on his way back, does he intend to settle any scores?

"There is nothing to get even with," said Youngblood. "They will all do themselves in. They all have legal problems." He declined to elaborate or give names, but he did say it was a ward leader and a council member.

Youngblood has spent the last year and a half in both Allenwood federal prison in Pennsylvania and the Otisville Correctional Facility in New York.

What are his current plans when he gets back?

"I will return to my community activities," he said. "I want to take care of those who need help." He said he is financially solvent and intends to get an apartment on the Ben Franklin Parkway and spend time with his youngest daughter. He has four other grown children.

Prior to this conviction, he had been imprisoned for cocaine possession during the 1980s.

Youngblood was a block captain and a political activist. He worked as an aide to Blackwell until then-City Council President John Street had him removed because of his prior convictions. Youngblood continued to work for Blackwell as an unpaid aide until his involvement with Deliverance.

Youngblood said he is amused by all the rumors saying he is coming back to stir up trouble. "They must afraid of me," he said.

There were rumors that he was going to work for Blackwell again and that he was going to work for a blight program. "Those rumors have started because they know all about the blight plans that Vernon Marks left me," said Youngblood.

Marks, who has since died, was considered an urban pioneer by Street and was credited for cleaning up the city’s vacant and blighted lots.

Youngblood said that he has no plans to do any more pro-bono work for council. He added that his community work will include helping other activists fight against Rite Aid being allowed to sell liquor in its stores. The Rite Aid drugstore chain, a financial backer of former Gov. Tom Ridge , is pushing for statewide privatization.

"It will be easier for minors to get liquor if they sell it," said Youngblood, "and people don’t want that in their community."

Not a fan of Mayor Street, Youngblood said he never asks Blackwell about her relationship with the mayor. "That’s her business," he said.

He maintains that he has a good relationship with her.

Calls placed to Blackwell’s office were referred to her attorney, Darwin Beauvais , who declined comment.

This week, Youngblood said he is in Otisville doing odd jobs.

"I have gotten very friendly with all of the Hasidic Jews and Amish that are in here with me," he said.

Youngblood also said he is glad that U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan is in office. When Youngblood was convicted, Michael Stiles was in that post. "[Meehan] is fair and open-minded and won’t listen to a lot of lies about someone unless there is proof," said Youngblood, who still insists he was framed.

Sources said that Youngblood is actually living in a rehabilitation center on North Broad Street run by the Kintock Group.

Youngblood said he is sent there only for periodic routine drug testing.

Last week another source said she saw Youngblood in Blackwell’s office.

"I was in Philadelphia last week for a furlough, but I was not in Jannie’s office," said Youngblood.

Such a Seamus

Late Monday afternoon, at a meeting of the board of Municipal Court judges, a new directive was issued from the state Supreme Court.

Sources said that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman , who oversees the local court activity here in the city, communicated to Municipal Court Administrative Judge Seamus McCaffery that there be no more preliminary hearings at the Criminal Justice Center (CJC). The hearings are to be sent back out to the districts.

Since being appointed as administrative judge earlier this year, McCaffery has been streamlining the system by ordering all cases to be heard at CJC instead of out in the police districts, thus saving the cost of police overtime. He has also implemented procedures that are practiced in the rest of the state, allowing hearsay testimony from police officers instead of civilians to come to hearings, making it easier for these victims.

The reasons for this move are unclear at this time.

Neither Newman nor McCaffery returned phone calls by press time.

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