Philadelphia’s top prosecutor Seth Williams was indicted on 21 counts of corruption Tuesday after a lengthy investigation by federal authorities. Charges against him include wire fraud, honest services fraud and also charges related to bribery, according to a 50-page indictment filed with federal prosecutors.
The investigation into embattled Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has centered on $160,000 in gifts that the Democrat failed to report, including a new roof, a $2,700 couch and luxury vacations, the Associated Press reports. The indictment said that he was given gifts in exchange for using his position to assist a business owner.
Williams, 50, failed to disclose five sources of income and 89 gifts on financial statements from 2010 through 2015 and omitted 10 items on an amended statement, according to the indictment. The gifts also included sideline passes for Philadelphia Eagles games for several years, nearly $21,000 in free airfare and a $6,500 Rolex watch from a girlfriend.
At the same time, he led a high-profile prosecution of Philadelphia lawmakers who had taken cash or jewelry, valued at perhaps a few thousand dollars, from an informant.
Williams is also accused of taking gifts in exchange for aid to a friend of business owner Mohammed N. Ali, who was facing prison time. Williams allegedly agreed to see about getting his sentenced shortened as part of his plea deal with the D.A.’s office, according to Philly.com.
“At a time when our citizens’ trust in government is at an all-time low, it is disheartening to see yet another elected official give the public a reason not to trust us,” Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement.
As recently as January, Williams had hoped to weather the scandal, vowing to earn back the “trust and respect” of his staff and the public. However, questions about the investigation dogged him as he tried to carry out his duties.
Williams, who was elected in 2009 as the first Black district attorney in Philadelphia history. During his seven-year tenure, his office filed the first charges against several Roman Catholic priests and earned a trial conviction against the first U.S. church official ever charged over the handling of priest sex-abuse complaints. The conviction has since been overturned, although the official served nearly three years in prison.
He announced in February that he would not seek re-election due to the corruption scandal. “I have made regrettable mistakes in my personal life and personal financial life that cast an unnecessary shadow,” Williams said.
He was fined $62,000 by the Philadelphia Board of Ethics and had to pay the city back more than $2,800 after he had earlier been charged with accepting gifts and failing to report income, which led to the federal investigation.
With reporting by AP