Philly lawyer Sprague, active in civic affairs, dies at 95


PHILADELPHIA — Richard A. Sprague, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer who prosecuted murderers, won high-stakes civil lawsuits and was deeply influential in state and city political and civic affairs died Saturday evening, a funeral home confirmed.

Sprague, 95, passed away in his home in Haverford, said funeral director Elliot Rosen with Joseph Levine and Sons Memorial Chapel Inc., which is handling arrangements. A livestreamed service is planned for Thursday.

Sprague served as chief counsel and director of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Assassinations, which probed the killings of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Rosen called Sprague “a remarkable professional who I think brought great honor to our community in all the roles he served for the community and as an attorney.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer said Sprague’s list of clients included basketball star Allen Iverson, former Mayor Frank Rizzo, former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, famed defense attorney F. Lee Bailey and the late Inquirer owners, Lewis Katz and H.F. Gerry Lenfest.

Pennsylvania state courts turned to him repeatedly over many years to serve on boards and other entities, including the Court of Judicial Discipline, which presides over allegations that judges have misbehaved.

In 2016, he was part of a group, with retired state Supreme Court justices, that challenged a decision by lawmakers to rewrite a ballot question making it more likely that voters would approve loosening an existing retirement age limit for judges.

The paper said Sprague helped send hundreds of murderers to prison during 17 years with the city district attorney’s office.

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