Charles Rogovin, a recently elected member of West Conshohocken’s Borough Council, passed away on January 10th. Below is his obituary from Chadwick McKinney Funeral Home:
Charles H. Rogovin, 84, of West Conshohocken, a law school professor and longtime law enforcement official at the state and federal level, died Sunday, Jan. 10, of a suspected heart attack at Lankenau Hospital.
Mr. Rogovin, a specialist in criminal law, as well as in organized and white-collar crime, joined the Temple University School of Law faculty in 1977. At his retirement in 2009, he was named professor of law emeritus.
He held numerous high-profile jobs in public service.
From 1985 to 1993, Mr. Rogovin served as vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission and participated in the investigation that led to the 1995 conviction of former Attorney General Ernie Preate Jr. in a mail-fraud case.
Preate pleaded guilty to one count of failing to report $20,000 in campaign funds. Prosecutors alleged that he had accepted kickbacks from illegal video-poker operators for allowing them to stay in business. He resigned from office and served prison time.
“It was our information and investigation that was then turned over to the federal authorities for prosecution,” said Allen Hornblum, who served with Mr. Rogovin on the five-member panel.
“Charlie was a law professor with a deep baritone voice,” Hornblum said. “He was very knowledgeable and when he spoke in that tone, you thought you were hearing guidance coming down from Mount Sinai.”
Mr. Rogovin warned that “if we pursue this, it could be the death knell of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission,” Hornblum said. Mr. Rogovin was right; when the item came up for continued funding before the General Assembly “we were shot down,” Hornblum said.
The panel disbanded in 1993. But throughout its deliberations, Mr. Rogovin never wavered in pushing for prosecution of Preate.
“Charlie said that this was our obligation, our duty, and our mandate, and we should not just go after the low-hanging fruit. If we had information that a major public figure was involved in corruption, it had to be pursued,” Hornblum said.
Special agent-in-charge Jim Kanavy helped gather evidence for the panel’s probe. The day before Mr. Rogovin was to brief the General Assembly on its findings, he asked those in the room: “What do we have here? What is it?”
“The silence was deafening,” wrote Kanavy in an online remembrance. “I said, ‘The sale of his office.’ Charlie replied, ‘Exactly!’ and relief filled the room.
“The next day he was thrown before the legislative lions and did, as usual, an exceptional defense, and his reputation for integrity helped carry the day.”
“He was a great mentor, and it is a tremendous loss,” Kanavy wrote.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Rogovin served as assistant attorney general under Massachusetts Attorney General Elliot Richardson. In that role, he was chief of the Criminal Division from 1967 to 1969.
He had served in Philadelphia as an assistant public defender, an assistant district attorney, and chief assistant district attorney. He also was former director of the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration in 1970.
In another assignment, he was a member of the President’s Commission on Organized Crime during the Reagan administration. After three years of work, he presented the commission’s final report to President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
Born in Jersey City, N.J., Mr. Rogovin graduated from Wesleyan University in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in history and went on to earn a degree from Columbia University Law School in 1956.
An active civic volunteer, he had recently been elected and sworn in as a West Conshohocken Borough councilman.
In 1988, he replaced Lewis F. Gould Jr. on the SEPTA board of directors. Mr. Rogovin told the Philadelphia Daily News that he had not pursued the post. “This is my home, and I’m interested in its future,” he said.
Marcy Rogovin, also a lawyer, met her husband when she was assistant dean of students at Temple Law in 1980. He wryly greeted her as “the new schoolmarm,” the couple told The Inquirer in 2010, and love soon bloomed for the two, both of whom were divorced. They married in 1988.
Between them, the couple had four children. They settled in a home overlooking West Conshohocken.
In retirement, he continued to stay in touch with his students and colleagues. “He was the consummate mentor, forever,” his wife said.
Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Caleb Rogovin; daughters Laura Rogovin, Rachel Gross, and Emily Goldmann; two grandchildren; and a brother. His former wife, Amy Rogovin, also survives.
A memorial service is to be at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, in the Moot Courtroom, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 1719 N. Broad St., Philadelphia. Burial was private.
Contributions may be made to the Innocence Project Clinical Fund in care of dean JoAnne Epps, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 1719 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19122