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Former Philly DA to Be Sentenced Tuesday
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Seth Williams

Summary: Former Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams is set to be sentenced Tuesday, which could be up to five years behind bars.

Seth Williams, the former district attorney of Philadelphia, was caught dipping his hands in the cookie jar. Williams is set to receive his sentence from a federal judge on Tuesday for abusing his position by receiving gifts and favors.

  
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The fallen DA has pleaded for leniency in court papers. He wants a few hours of freedom on an electronic monitoring device so he can spend time with his elderly mother and so he can “get his affairs in order.”

His attorneys wrote in the court filings to federal Judge Paul S. Diamond, “Williams in no way seeks to minimize the nature and circumstances of his crimes. Williams is acutely aware of his misconduct and the public shame he has brought upon himself, his family and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.” They continued, “The defense asks this court to consider … Williams’ entire life history in formulating an appropriate [sentence].”

Federal prosecutors are pushing for the maximum sentence on the one count of the 29 he pleaded guilty. That sentence would be five years in federal lockup. Williams also agreed to pay, as part of his plea, $64,878.22 in restitution. He may be required to pay more at sentencing.

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court disbarred Williams just a few days ago. He was the city’s first black DA, elected to the position in 2010. He earned his law degree at Georgetown Law School after graduating from Penn State. He went on to work as a prosecutor at the DA’s office right after graduating from law school. He is also a major in the U.S. military reserves.

Williams has been held at the federal detention center in Philadelphia since he entered a guilty plea on June 29. The plea came during the middle of his profile federal trial. Once he entered the plea, he lost his $176,000 annual salary as DA.



He now joins a number of other Philadelphia politicians that have fallen from power, although his has happened much faster. U.S. District Judge Paul D. Diamond ordered the case to proceed to trial as soon as possible instead of waiting for the typical year delay between indictment and trial of high-profile cases.

Williams’ fall from power also included a fall in his finances. He had to sell his home in Overbrook after pleading guilty. He claims he only has a couple hundred bucks in his bank account. This is a big change from the lifestyle he was enjoying while in office. Williams was getting free trips, furniture and other gifts from “friends.” He was able to take his daughters on a trip to South America and a specifically requested chocolate colored couch. He asked for this couch in a text message which was part of the evidence during the trial.

He was accused of spending campaign funds for massages, facials, and parties. He also saved money by never having to buy a car and instead using his city-provided vehicle and cars reserved for other uses. He used the city-provided car around the clock instead of for business purposes.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing Williams was accused of doing was using money that was to pay for his mother’s nursing home care for himself.

He tried to argue that the gifts were not crimes because they came from personal relationships with friends and other acquaintances.

Should Williams get the maximum sentence of five years on the one count? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about scandals involving Philadelphia’s politicians, read these articles:

Photo: nytimes.com



 

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