Philadelphia district attorney indicted on bribery and corruption charges

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Seth Williams

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. Photo by Spark49, via Wikimedia Commons.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams is about to learn what life as a criminal defendant feels like.

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the embattled prosecutor was indicted on more than 21 counts, including bribery, wire fraud and honest services fraud. According to the Inquirer, Williams is being accused of accepting expensive gifts—including a luxurious trip to a resort in the Dominican Republic, a custom-made leather sofa, an iPad and a Burberry purse for his girlfriend—in exchange for doing favors for Mohammed N. Ali, a friend and business owner in Philadelphia.

The indictment, which was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleged that, in 2012, Williams agreed to try to get a lighter prison sentence for one of Ali’s friends. Three days later, he was offered an all-expenses-paid trip to the Dominican Republic. “I am merely a thankful beggar and don’t want to overstep my bounds,” Williams allegedly wrote in a text message that appeared in the indictment. “But we will gladly go.”

The indictment also accused Williams of setting up a meeting between Ali and law enforcement, so that Ali could bypass security screenings at Philadelphia International Airport. According to the indictment, Williams received a $7,000 check immediately afterward.

Williams has been under investigation concerning his finances since at least summer 2015. In January, he was hit with a record $62,000 fine from the Philadelphia Board of Ethics for not reporting more than $175,000 in gifts he had accepted.

A former rising star within the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, Williams, who’s in the final year of his second term as district attorney, recently announced that he would not run for re-election. “I have made regrettable mistakes in my personal life and personal financial life that cast an unnecessary shadow over the district attorney’s office,” Williams said last month, after he decided not to run.

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