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Philly pols snared in sting waive right to hearings

Two Pennsylvania state representatives from Philadelphia busted in a bribery sting waived their right to a preliminary hearing, D.A. Seth Williams announced Thursday.

Representatives Ronald Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown waived their hearings in a Dauphin County court, Williams said. He expects them to plead guilty.

Waters and Brown were arrested for accepting $8,750 and $4,000, respectively, from an undercover informant who led a corruption sting directed by then-Attorney General Tom Corbett while wearing a wire. They did not deny the charges.

“Both officials personally appeared before our grand jury and fully admitted that they knowingly took illegal cash payments,” Williams said when he announced the charges against them in December.

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In one recording, the informant gives Waters $2,000, then says, “Just make sure you vote no on that,” according to the tapes.

“OK,” Waters replied.

On another tape, Brown told the informant, “I need a contribution. I’ll take cash.”

After the informant offered her five hundred dollars, Brown replied, “What do you need me to do?”

Both Brown and Waters allegedly accepted bribes to vote “no” on House Bill 934, which would have established new voter identification requirements. The bill was already opposed by the state Democratic party.

In addition, Waters set up and attended a meeting with a Philadelphia Parking Authority executive to assist the informant in getting a contract and contacted an elected official to help the informant’s friend get a job in return for the funds, according to the D.A.

In return for funds, Brown supported privatizing state-owned liquor stores, promised to vote against a phone service discount service for low-income citizens, “Lifeline,” and set up and attended a meeting for the informant with Tynes.

“The evidence against both of them is overwhelming,” Williams said. “I look forward to the resolution of this case through guilty pleas.”

Former Philadelphia Traffic Court supervising judge Thomasine Tynes was previously indicted in October for accepting a $2,000 Tiffany’s bracelet in return for favors.

Tynes, Brown, Waters and two other Democratic state representatives from Philadelphia, Louise Bishop and Michelle Brownlee, were all allegedly caught accepting illegal gifts during the sting which Attorney General Kathleen Kane shut down and called “unprosecutable.”

 
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