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Philly Corruption All-Stars (2000s)

"He was drunk with power"

Our corrupt culture is unique, and it’s easy to forget that when you’re in the throes of the latest scandal. That’s why we’re publishing our Philly Corruption All-Stars, baseball card-like profiles of the best—er, worst—practitioners of political black arts, Philly-style. Though we’re committed to being a constructive force for making the city better, we think these cards are necessary to hammer home an important point: We have a longstanding cultural issue before us.

We’re publishing our All-Stars by decade, and at the end we’ll provide you with a link to a PDF version, so you can print the cards out and trade them with your friends.

Of course, we’re having fun with this, but it’s really no laughing matter. Our research for these tongue in cheek posts shows that things have gotten worse, not better. Just think of recent history, and the respective falls of Seth Williams, Kathleen Kane, Chakah Fattah, and Rob McCord—to just name a few. The culture is alive. The virus is spreading.

Here at The Citizen, we’re always looking for solutions. This time, it’s not so complicated: We need good men and women among us to demand better of those we hire to represent us.

Today, we look at the 2000s. The start of the new century brought about the start of a new era—much like the old era of corruption, only more so.

99

Milton Street

Pennsylvania Senate

Milton Street

Pennsylvania Senate

(1981 – 1984)

Corruption charge: Street was indicted by a federal grand jury on fraud and tax evasion charges.

Outcome: Convicted in 2008 on three counts of tax evasion, Street was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $413,000 in back taxes.

"No corruption, no fraud, no wrongdoing on the part of Milton Street. I didn’t file. That’s it," Street said afterward. "That’s a major victory."

99

Angel Ortiz

Philadelphia City Council

Angel Ortiz

Philadelphia City Council

(1992 – 2004)

Corruption charge: Ortiz was investigated by the city of Philadelphia for driving without a license for 25 years—17 years of which he was driving a city car.

Outcome: After Fox 29 revealed Ortiz did not have a license, he finally acquired one. A few months later, he was stripped of his license for six months, and was convicted and fined $550.

Ortiz said he meant to get a license, and had merely "procrastinated" for 25 years.

99

Barbara Hafer

Pennsylvania Treasurer

Barbara Hafer

Pennsylvania Treasurer

(1997 – 2005)

Corruption charge: Hafer was indicted last July for misleading the FBI and IRS about nearly $700,000 in consulting payments that she had accepted from a campaign donor, businessman Richard Ireland.

Outcome: The court case is pending.

Hafers lawyers said that Hafer had "simple lapses in memory" when she denied accepting money.

99

Joan Orie Melvin

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice

Joan Orie Melvin

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice

(2003 – 2009)

Corruption charge: Melvin was charged with theft of service and campaign corruption.

Outcome: Melvin was convicted on several counts related to using judicial staff as well as the legislative staff of her sister, former State Sen. Jane Orie, to campaign in 2003 and 2009 for the state Supreme Court. She was sentenced to three years of house arrest. Her sister was also convicted on corruption charges.

In an apology letter she wrote, “As a former member of the Pennsylvania Judiciary, I realize that my conduct has impacted the public’s perception toward the judiciary and the difficulty it has imposed upon the discharge of your responsibilities as a judge.” But that wasn’t enough to mollify the three judge panel at her trial, which also sentenced her to write apologies to her judicial peers on a picture of her in handcuffs. That part of the punishment was later overturned on appeal.

99

Richard T. Mariano

Philadelphia City Council

Richard T. Mariano

Philadelphia City Council

(1996 – 2006)

Corruption charge: Arrested on charges that he let his friends pay his credit card bills in exchange for political favors, including tax breaks and schools contracts.

Outcome: Convicted of federal bribery, money laundering and tax charges. Sentenced to six years and six months in jail.

"Like many other troubled people, I have turned to God in search of some measure of peace and understanding," Mariano said later. "I take great comfort in my new-found knowledge of God’s love and promise of hope for people like me who have made terrible mistakes."

99

Vincent J. Fumo

Pennsyvania Senate

Vincent J. Fumo

Pennsyvania Senate

(1978 – 2008)

Corruption charge: Indicted in February 2008 on 139 felony corruption charges, conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and aiding the filing of a false tax return.

Outcome: Found guilty of defrauding the state Senate and two nonprofits, tax violations and obstructing the FBI investigation, and sentenced to 55 months in prison. Fumo was also fined $411,000 and ordered to pay nearly $1.3 million in restitution to the Senate and $676,000 to the nonprofit, Citizens Alliance.

"Maybe I should not have asked my staff to do the favors I did," Fumo told the court before he was sentenced. "Judge, I never intended to steal. The last thing on my mind was taking money from anybody. I’ve never done that." But Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pease wasn’t buying it. "He didn’t need to steal," Pease argued. "He stole because he could, because he was drunk with power."

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil posts. We want to be a communal space. But that doesn’t mean you have a First Amendment right to be an idiot. Send us an insulting, offensive and/or wildly off-topic comment and not only will we refrain from posting it -- we will laugh at you before we hit delete.

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