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D.A.: Philly pol in corruption probe thought friendship with me ‘would save her’

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday criminal charges against three more Philly Democrats implicated in a cash-for-favors sting executed by an undercover operative.

Now charged are state representatives Louise Bishop and Michelle Brownlee, as well as former state rep. Harold James — with evidence pegging Bishop as the ringleader of an attempt to pad the state House of Representatives’ committee on privatizing liquor sales with friendly politicians.

“By the end of the year, you will have built your stable,” Bishop told an undercover operative, after he provided $1,500 to her, referring to plans to connect him with more politicians.

Bishop then introduced operative Tyron Ali to to state rep. Michelle Brownlee and then-state Rep. Harold James, all in relation to the goal of filling the committee with politicians who could be influenced, Williams said.

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James accepted $750 — provided to him in money orders delivered by undercover operative Tyron Ali in a parking lot on Delaware Avenue, he admitted to investigators.

Brownlee accepted $2,000 in cash, she admitted to investigators.

“I believe they were desperate,” Williams said. “Criminals do ignorant, foolish, idiotic, inhumane things everyday.”

Williams also said Bishop — who he has known his whole life as Reverend Bishop, a family friend and host of a gospel radio show — had believed her friendship with Williams would protect her from any criminal charges.

“Ms. Bishop believed … that would save her in the end. In fact, that is what she told many people,” he said. “But it can’t. Not if I am to remain true to my oath of office and to the impartial administration of justice that the citizens of Philadelphia demand and deserve.”

The undercover sting, orchestrated in 2011 and 2012 by then-Attorney General Tom Corbett, was first revealed by the Inquirer in 2014, which said sitting Attorney General Kathleen Kane shut down the probe without filing any criminal charges.

Kane said the sting, orchestrated by then-Attorney General Tom Corbett, was un-prosecutable and racially motivated. All the politicians implicated were African American.

Williams has said those claims are not supported by the evidence and explicitly accused Kane of knowingly lying on Tuesday.

“I am insulted when someone would allege something to be racist when they know it is not,” he said. “Viscerally, it makes me sick.”

Williams declined to comment on whether any other politicians will face charges.

At this point, six politicians have been charged related to the probe.

Former Traffic Court presiding judge Thomasine Tynes pleaded guilty to accepting a $2,000 Tiffany’s bracelet.

State rep. Ronald G. Waters and state rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown acknowledged accepting illegal gifts, but have not yet been convicted.

 

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