D.A. Williams: ‘Evidence is worth another look’ in corruption sting shut down by AG Kane

D.A. Seth Williams is convening a grand jury to investigate allegations of political corruption first reported in connection to , top left, former Traffic Court judge Thomasine Tynes, and Democratic state representatives (clockwise from top right) Ronald Waters, Louise Bryant, Michelle Brownlee and Vanessa Brown. Credit: provided
D.A. Seth Williams is convening a grand jury to investigate allegations of political corruption first reported in connection to , top left, former Traffic Court judge Thomasine Tynes, and Democratic state representatives (clockwise from top right) Ronald Waters, Louise Bryant, Michelle Brownlee and Vanessa Brown. Credit: provided

An investigatory grand jury of 36 men and women will review the evidence from a controversial undercover sting that reportedly reveals at least five instances of local public servants illegally accepting gifts or bribes, D.A. Seth Williams announced today.

“I won’t allow this case to just disappear. There has to be accountability,” D.A. Williams said on Wednesday.

In March, the Inquirer reported that Attorney General Kathleen Kane dropped an investigation launched under in 2010 under then-Attorney General Tom Corbett that reportedly found four local legislators and a Traffic Court judge illegally accepted gifts and cash. Kane did not file criminal charges.

State Rep. Louise Bishop, State Rep. Ronald G. Waters, State Rep. Michelle Brownlee, State Rep. Vanessa Brown (all Democrats from Philadelphia), and former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes were reportedly taped receiving gifts which they did not report as required by law from a lobbyist named Tyron Ali, who was in fact an undercover operative.

“I concluded that the evidence was worth another look,” Williams said Wednesday. “In the end, the citizens of Pennsylvania didn’t have a clear answer to the most important question: did their public officials break the law by accepting payments for improper purposes? I thought they deserved an answer to that question.”

According to the Inquirer story on these alleged non-reported gifts, Bishop allegedly received $1,500.

Waters allegedly received $7,650.

Brownlee allegedly received $3,500.

Brown allegedly received $4,000.

Tynes allegedly received a Tiffany’s bracelet worth $2,000.

But Williams, who has reviewed some of the evidence – which he said consisted of hundreds of hours of tapes – made statements which implied other elected officials may be involved as well.

“This investigation is much more expansive than what has previously been reported,” Williams said, declining to speak further.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported in April that unsealed court documents show a total of 12 legislators and lobbyists accepted cash or gifts from Ali while he wore a wire.

Kane has harshly criticized the Inquirer story, and on the day it was published called it “inaccurate and sensational” and based on “allegations made by several cowardly anonymous sources.”

“This investigation was not only deeply flawed, but unraveled long before I was elected and then took the oath of office,” Kane said in March.

She later claimed that the investigation was racist and only targeted black people, that Ali was not credible because he served as an operative in return for dismissal of charges of embezzling $430,000 in welfare benefits, and that federal prosecutors who reviewed the evidence told her the evidence was not prosecutable.

Investigators Frank Fina and Claude Thomas, who worked on the original investigation and now work for D.A. Williams, denied that the investigation involved racial targeting. Thomas is African American.

Williams also stated that federal prosecutors never reviewed the case.

Kane later met with the Inquirer and brought an attorney who threatened to file a personal defamation lawsuit against the newspaper related to their coverage.

Kane’s spokesman J.J. Abbott declined to comment on D.A. Williams’ decision to convene a grand jury, or on the status of that lawsuit.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Woman dies when run over by bus at…

A woman at the Burning Man arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert died on Thursday when she was run over by a bus carrying participants.

National

Texas parents sue day care center for duct…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas couple has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Fort Worth-area day care center seeking $1 million…

National

Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…

International

Egypt queries Mursi over documents "leaked" to Al…

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is investigating jailed ex-president Mohamed Mursi in connection with documents that judicial investigators say were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…