Philadelphia Democrat to Plead Guilty on Federal Bribery Charges

Seth Williams / Getty Images
June 29, 2017

Philadelphia's Democrat district attorney Seth Williams will plead guilty to federal corruption charges on Thursday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Williams, who has been the city's district attorney since 2010, was indicted by a federal grand jury in March on 23 corruption counts that stretched back to his first year in the elected office. His misconduct, described by the FBI as "brazen and wide-ranging," led to federal bribery, extortion, and wire fraud charges.

Williams decided to agree to a plea deal, the details of which are yet to be announced, following testimony from two businessmen who say they "showered" him with gifts, according to the Inquirer's report.

His decision came after weeks of damaging testimony in which government witnesses characterized him a shameless beggar who repeatedly turned to the money of others to fund a lifestyle he couldn’t afford.

Two wealthy businessmen testified that they had showered the district attorney with gifts of all-expenses-paid travel, luxury goods and even cash in anticipation of the legal favors they might need from him.

And prosecutors had alleged that Williams delivered for them – writing letters to throw his weight into their legal problems and promising in one instance to intervene in a drug case brought by his office.

Additionally, Williams was accused of misspending thousands of dollars from his campaign fund on memberships to exclusive Philadelphia social clubs, misusing city vehicles as if they were his own and misappropriating money intended to fund his mother’s nursing home care.

The Department of Justice's initial announcement of the charges stated that Williams solicited and accepted valuable gifts ranging from a $6,381 trip to the Dominican Republic, a $3,212 couch, and a 1997 Jaguar XK8 convertible.

In exchange, Williams assisted his gift-givers with assistance on criminal investigations into their associates, perks from his office, and government appointments.

Williams was also accused of diverting one of his relatives' pension fund to pay for his own personal expenses.

"The alleged misconduct, as specifically laid out in this indictment, is brazen and wide-ranging, as is the idea that a District Attorney would so cavalierly trade on elected office for financial gain," said the FBI.