Several elected officials in Pennsylvania have been sentenced or charged with a number of corruption-related accusations in recent months, exemplifying a troubling trend for the Keystone State.
The three politicians are facing charges or set to serve prison sentences for allegations ranging from bribery with lavish gifts, to perjury, to obstruction of justice and racketeering.
Former Democrat Rep. Chaka Fattah was sentenced to 10 years in prison in December after being found guilty on 23 charges of corruption. A jury concluded that he illegally took a $1 million loan from an affluent friend, in order to finance his failed campaign for Philadelphia mayor in 2007. He then repaid portions of the loan with federal grant money from NASA that his former aides maneuvered into a non-profit.
“For someone so interested in advancing education for the disadvantaged, you had the temerity to steal from the Educational Advancement Alliance, a nonprofit supported by government funds,” presiding U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle said, according to CBS. “While you have done much good, you also engaged in grave and widespread criminal activity. You abused your trust, time and time again.” (RELATED: PA Mayor Urged To Resign After Facebook Posts Show Obama, Apes, And Lynching)
Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the first Democrat elected to the position in the state, was convicted of nine criminal charges in August, including for criminal conspiracy and perjury, after she leaked sensitive information from a grand jury and then lied about it. Prosecutors alleged Kane purposefully exposed classified info regarding a rival prosecutor in order to get revenge on him for purportedly divulging a sting operation incriminating Philadelphia officials.
She was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in prison in October, after initially pleading for clemency before presiding Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy. Following her sentence, the judge had a stern warning for Kane.
“There is to be absolutely no retaliation of any kind against any witness in this case, either by your own devices, from your own mouth or your hand, or directing anybody to do anything,” Demchick-Alloy stressed. “Is that clear, Ms. Kane?”
A federal grand jury charged Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams earlier in March with 23 corruption-related charges, after an investigation originating in nearby New Jersey allegedly showed he took more than $100,000 in lavish gifts, tropical vacations, and cash in exchange for political favors.
Williams, also a Democrat, allegedly took the bribes in exchange for help with security screenings following a confidant’s return from foreign travel, and for his help appointing another unnamed business owner to “Special Advisor” in the Philadelphia district attorney’s office.
Some of the luxurious presents included an all-inclusive vacation to Punta Cana worth $6,381, a custom sofa worth $3,212, a $502 dinner at a Philadelphia restaurant, a Louis Vuitton tie priced at $205, a Burberry watch, a Burberry purse for his girlfriend, and an iPad. Williams is also accused of receiving a $7,000 check and a Jaguar convertible.
Williams is still awaiting the official trial, but voluntarily and temporarily suspended his own law license Friday until the outcome of the case is set. He refused to step down, however.
“The indictment alleges that as District Attorney, Mr. Williams compromised himself and his elected office by standing ready to help those who were willing to pay him with money, trips, and cars,” U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, William E. Fitzpatrick, wrote in a press release. “Mr. Williams’ alleged willingness to compromise his position of public trust in exchange for private financial gain is all the more unfortunate given that he was elected to protect the interests of the people of Philadelphia as their chief law enforcement officer.”
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