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
Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.