Philadelphia Prosecutor to Be Charged In $160k Gifts Probe

Seth Williams

Seth Williams

Seth Williams, who was twice elected as Philadelphia's DA, is accused of accepting bribes between 2010 and 2015 to help two business owners, said William Fitzpatrick, the acting United States attorney of New Jersey. However, his lawyer vowed they would fight charges that he promised any legal breaks in return, a quid pro quo that would render the gifts bribes.

Williams is accused of soliciting bribes from two unidentified business owners between July 2010 and July 2015 that included a sofa, cash, clothing and a trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. He also had the businessman meet with an airport police official in an attempt to avoid enhanced screening when returning to the US from overseas, they said.

"Mr. Williams appeared on his own today as we requested and he was released on his own recognizance".

Williams was ordered by the Ethics Board in January 2017 to pay a $62,000 fine and to pay the city $2,840 for the value of five gifts he received that violated the city's Ethics Code. It was the largest penalty the board imposed in its 10-year history.

Williams, the city's first black district attorney, announced last month that he would not run for a third term this year.

It's also claimed Williams attempted to relax a layer of security at Philadelphia International Airport. At the time, he said he made the decision because his "mistakes" had "cast an unnecessary shadow over the D.A.'s office".

Known to frequent cigar bars and the tony Union League, Williams has been open about his financial problems since the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS began poking into his finances two years ago.

A spokesman for Acting U.S. Attorney for New Jersey William E. Fitzpatrick could not immediately be reached for comment. Federal Building. Fitzpatrick said Philadelphia authorities asked his office to investigate to avoid actual and perceived bias.

More than 20 counts of corruption, including wire fraud and the use of interstate facilities to promote bribery, have been stacked up against the City of Brotherly Love's district attorney. Williams rejected a plea deal from prosecutors earlier this week. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of a total of $54,466.

Some of those gifts featured prominently in Tuesday's indictment, including a $3,000 trip Williams took in 2012 with his then-girlfriend to the Dominican Republic, where they stayed in a presidential suite complete with access to a private beach and personal butler. Williams appointed another merchant as a special adviser, wrote a letter to help the merchant in a business dispute, and helped the merchant get a police accident report for a friend, the indictment charged.

During his seven-year tenure, his office filed the first charges against several Roman Catholic priests and earned a trial conviction against the first USA church official charged over the handling of priest sex-abuse complaints.

The FBI said in exchange, Williams offered official action.

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