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.


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.