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Pennsylvania: Philly D.A. Sentenced to Five Years for Corruption, Disbarred

by Monte McCoin

Former Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who in 2009 drew acclaim as the first African-American D.A. in the city and the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was sentenced on October 24, 2017 to five years in prison for accepting a bribe. He had been disbarred the week before.

Williams was initially indicted on March 21, 2017 in a 23-count charging document that detailed a sprawling corruption case against the disgraced top prosecutor. Investigators accused him of repeatedly selling his influence in exchange for cash, luxury trips and lavish gifts such as a 1997 Jaguar XK8 convertible. The charges were later expanded to 29 counts in a May 2017 superseding indictment that included accusations Williams had fraudulently used thousands of dollars from his campaign fund for personal expenses, misused city vehicles and misappropriated money intended to fund his mother’s nursing home care.

Williams pleaded guilty on June 29, 2017 to a single count of a Travel Act violation and resigned. He was taken into custody immediately despite his tearful plea to the court to remain free until sentencing for the sake of his three school-age daughters. “Your profound dishonesty has to be deterred,” said U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond, who added that Williams had “humiliated” his office and the city.

The former D.A.’s plea agreement dismissed the 28 other corruption-related charges with the requirement that Williams admit to those allegations; the admissions were considered part of his sentencing, which also included the forfeiture of $64,878.22 from bribes and fraudulent proceeds.

PLN previously reported on Williams’ apology to his staff when his failure to disclose the “gifts” he received was first revealed. [See: PLN, Dec. 2016, p.61]. 


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