We have a regular at the cafe who is the exact definition of gauche. He’s crude, rude, and generally obnoxious. About once or twice a week he comes in and places and order. “Make it extra special for me toots,” he’ll say, nodding back at my coworker, “that guy back there can tell you how good I tip.” He always tells exaggerated stories about how good of friends he is with my boss, even though she has a gag reflex whenever he walks into the place. She also told me about the time that he was banned from the cafe for two years. The reason? He had been trying to tell her some story while she was dealing with customers, and then got angry with her for not listening. When she politely told him that she was busy and would have to hear his story another time, he screamed across the cafe “Whoa, look who’s on her period!” Consequently, she asked him to leave.
This man is also known for diving his hand into the tip bowl and “exchanging money”. We’re not sure if he’s actually putting money in there because he’s actually rather sly about it. He then proceeds over to the payphone in the hallway, where he proceeds to angrily scream at the person on the other end of the line. We hope there’s another person on the end of the line.
The point of this story is that I was welcomed to work last Thursday with my boss slamming the Philadelphia Inquirer into my face. “Read this!” she demanded, pointing down to the front page. And there, my friends, was the mugshot of our dear regular. I’d heard the news reports about a man beating his mother, a judge. And I’d also had our dear regular tell me that I should go to law school, that his mother was a judge. I guess that none of us at the cafe had put two and two together, but here was the four. The article is below, with deliciously good quotes highlighted.
Son charged in attack on judge
Lawrence Richette, 48, was accused in the beating of veteran judge Lisa A. Richette at her Center City home.
By Joseph A. Slobodzian
Inquirer Staff Writer
JONATHAN WILSON / Inquirer Staff Photographer
Video: Richette rebuffs TV reporter (Warning – Disturbing Content)
The son of veteran Common Pleas Judge Lisa A. Richette has been charged with beating the 79-year-old jurist in an incident Tuesday at her Center City home.
Lawrence Richette, 48, of the 2200 block of Pemberton Street in South Philadelphia, was arrested Tuesday and charged with simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. He was released on his own recognizance yesterday – his birthday – pending a preliminary hearing Oct. 29.
Cathie Abookire, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, said Richette also was ordered to stay away from his mother.
Neither Richette nor the judge could be reached for comment yesterday, and knocks on their doors went unanswered.
Earlier, however, Richette answered when NBC10 television news reporter Monique Braxton knocked on his door.
In a moment captured on camera and quickly posted on the Internet, Richette, who was wearing a white bathrobe when he answered the knock, is seen exposing himself to the TV reporter and saying: “That’s what I think of TV news.”
The station blocked Richette’s privates with an on-screen bar as Braxton averted her eyes.
NBC10 assistant news director Dave Parker said the station would have no comment on the incident. “It says what it is,” he said.
According to police spokesman Capt. Benjamin Naish, Judge Richette was taken by rescue crews to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital about 5 p.m. Tuesday for treatment and suturing of a cut above her eye.
Police declined to disclose details about the altercation between the Richettes. Sources in the department said the judge declined to cooperate with the police investigation.
Judge Richette, who continues working as a senior judge in Philadelphia Family Court, has been an often-colorful fixture on the bench since appointed by Gov. Milton J. Shapp in 1971.
Her outspoken nature and sentencing practices angered such tough-on-crime proponents as the late Mayor Frank L. Rizzo, but she also was praised for the time she spent helping abused and neglected children and the mentally ill.
Her early experiences as an assistant district attorney in the Family Court Division led her to later write a book about at-risk youth titled The Throwaway Children.
She also seemed to be a personal magnet for crime, surviving several robbery attempts, the most recent three years ago when she was 76. The attack took place at 20th and Rittenhouse Streets. She was punched, knocked into the snow and lost her purse containing $180 in cash.
“I don’t have very good luck in Center City,” she said at the time.
Lawrence Richette, the only child of the judge and her late husband, lawyer Lawrence J. Richette, has had several prior contacts with police, sometimes involving alcohol or drug use.
In October 2005, he was charged with disorderly conduct and the case was referred to Philadelphia Community Court, the branch of Municipal Court created with the help of the Center City District to dispose of minor “quality-of-life crimes” that ordinarily would not be prosecuted because of the caseload of major cases facing the District Attorney’s Office.
Court records show that Richette, a writer, former political editor for the Philadelphia City Paper and sometime Democratic activist, failed to appear for his hearing and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He does not appear to have been arrested, and the case remains open.
Richette also has a 2001 arrest for driving under the influence, which court records say was withdrawn by the prosecutor’s office, and a 1992 arrest for criminal mischief that also was not prosecuted.
In 1987, he was charged with swearing at and then pushing a city police officer after he was brought in following an auto accident in Society Hill. He was acquitted by a Municipal Court judge who admonished him to be more respectful of law-enforcement officers.
In recent years, Richette has published several novels through Xlibris, a publish-on-demand partner of Random House. He also periodically has worked in support of Democratic candidates, including presidential candidate John Edwards and Philadelphia mayoral candidate Michael Nutter.
Pemberton Street, where Richette lives behind a brown mahogany door with brass fixtures, is largely composed of recently rehabbed red-brick homes with window flower boxes. The neighborhood was abuzz last night with talk of the earlier incident involving NBC10.
The neighbors, most of whom would not talk on the record, weren’t surprised.
One resident, Cassandra Wagner, 27, who in March moved here from Cincinnati, said she was warned about Richette shortly after arriving.
“I feel sorry for him,” she said. “When new people move in, we take it upon ourselves to warn them that he is very confrontational. But most of it is verbal. Never physical. He is loud and disruptive. He yells at people.”
Another neighbor said Richette frequently engaged in yelling matches with a woman who drove a black PT Cruiser. Judge Richette is said to drive a car fitting that description. A black PT Cruiser with a judge’s placard in the window was parked on the street last night.