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Political corruption in Philadelphia: A brief history

Criminal charges against elected officials in the city reach far beyond now-indicted DA Seth Williams.

Philadelphia City Hall.

Flickr / Stefanie Seskin

With District Attorney Seth Williams' recent indictment on bribery and extortion charges, Philadelphia is remindedof its long history of crimes and misdemeanors starring its public servants.

Last week, Williams pleaded not guiltyto a 23-count indictment that accuses him of trading official favors for, well, just about anything: lavish vacations, sports tickets, home repairs, bespoke accessories.

The charges against him ring all too familiar in Philadelphia when it comes to elected officials. Here's a look at some past criminal cases that all have a similar theme.

Chaka Fattah

Philly Congressman Chaka Fattah, who served 11 terms, lost his primary in 2016 while facing anumber of federal charges, including racketeering, wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering.

He was convicted andsentenced to 10 yearsin prison in December.

Joseph Waters Jr.

The former municipal court judge was sentenced to two years in prisonfor fixing cases for political gain in 2015, and conspiring with other judges, who were actually working with the FBI. Waters also accepted cash, alcohol and tickets, authorities said, and had to pay a $5,500 fine to pay it all back.

John Perzel

The Republican state representative pleaded guilty in 2011 to 82 counts, including conflict of interest, conspiracy and theft. According to prosecutors, Perzelconstructed a schemeto use taxpayer dollars to pay for a software to give Republican candidates an edge in running for office.

Nine Philly judges

Current and former traffic court judges were investigated by the FBI for three years, and were charged in 2013 with 77 counts of corruption and ticket-fixing for personal gain.

Blondell Reynolds Brown

The Democratic city councilwoman, still in office and in her fifth term, was the subject of a federal probe in 2013 relating to misused campaign money. Despite calls for her to step down, Brown did not. Her campaign manager was eventuallyfound guilty of wire fraudand funneling $100,000 of political donations for personal uses.

 
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