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Fourth Philly pol pleads guilty to corruption

Four of six elected officials snared in a controversial sting have now pleaded guilty.
State Rep. Michelle BrownleeProvided

Pennsylvania State Rep. Michelle Brownlee (D-Philadelphia) became the latest politician to plead guilty to conflict of interest charges on Monday after a controversial sting that ensnared several pols.

Brownlee pleaded guilty Monday in a Dauphin County court outside Harrisburg.

Brownlee was caught on tape accepting a $2,000 gift from an undercover operative in return for promised political favor.

She did not deny accepting the bribe when questioned before a grand jury, said D.A. Seth Williams in March when he announced charges against her.

Brownlee was previously outed as an alleged recipient of an illegal gift when the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed in March 2014thatAttorney General Kathleen Kane had shut down an undercover stinginto political corruptionwithout pressing charges.

The sting, launched by then-Attorney General Tom Corbett, used an undercover operative who posed as a lobbyist seeking influence in the Harrisburg state house -- and secretly recorded and videotaped conversations with sitting officials in which he offered gifts for promised favors.

D.A. Seth Williamstook over the case in June 2014, and has since pressed charges against all five Philadelphia Democrats named in the original Inquirer report, as well as one not previously named, former State Rep. Harold James.

Former Traffic Court Supervising Judge Thomasine Tynes, who was implicated in the same sting,has already pleaded guilty and admitted to accepting a $2,000 Tiffany's bracelet in exchange for favors.

Tynes was sentenced to 23 months in prison. She is also serving a two-year sentence in federal prison for her role in widespread ticket-fixing at Philadelphia Traffic Court.

State Rep. Ronald Waters and former State Rep. James, who were also charged, have previously pleaded guiltyto conflict of interest charges.

Waters was ordered to repay the $8,750 he accepted and sentenced to 23 months probation.

James was sentenced to 12 months probation.

Vanessa Lowery Brown is scheduled to appear in court on July 13.

One defendant, Louise Williams Bishop, is fighting the charges and at a hearing on June 5 filed subpoenas for the undercover operative, a prosecutor and another investigator who worked on the sting.

Bishop reportedly claims the sting was racially motivated.

Williams has said that there is no evidence of racial or political targeting in the evidence from the sting.

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