(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
NEW YORK- US authorities on Tuesday charged Philadelphia's top prosecutor with accepting bribes, including a Caribbean vacation, furniture and cash, in exchange for favors such as reducing a defendant's sentence and seeking to limit the airport security screening of an associate.
In a 23-count indictment, a federal grand jury outlined a pattern of illegal behavior by District Attorney Seth Williams going back to 2010, shortly after he was elected to the first of his two four-year terms.
The federal indictment was unsealed as officials from the New Jersey US Attorney's office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security prepared to hold a press conference in Philadelphia.
A spokesman for the district attorney's office had no comment on the charges.
"The DA is not in the office today because he is spending time with his family," the spokesman, Cameron Kline, said in an email.
Williams, 50, agreed two months ago to pay $62,000 in civil penalties to end an investigation by the Philadelphia ethics board into his failure to disclose gifts including NBA basketball tickets, cash and lodging. The ethics board said it was the largest penalty it had imposed in its 10-year history.
Last month, Williams announced he would not seek a third term this year in light of that case, saying he made "regrettable mistakes" in accepting the gifts.
Williams, a Democrat, is the first African-American elected as a district attorney in Pennsylvania. His 600-person office handles 40,000 criminal cases a year, from minor crimes to murders.