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Philly Corruption All-Stars (2010s)

"I do what the f*ck I want."

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’ve been publishing our All-Stars by decade. Now that we’re finished, we’ve compiled a nifty PDF version of all the cards so you can print them out and trade them with your friends. Find that by clicking here:

 

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 2010s. A little more than halfway through, and already chock-full o’ corruption.

99

Seth Williams

Philadelphia District Attorney

Seth Williams

Philadelphia District Attorney

(2010 – 2017)

Corruption charge: In March, Williams was indicted on 28 different corruption charges, including selling his influence, accepting bribes and—the kicker—stealing $20,000 from his mother to cover utility bills. The gifts he received included a Louis Vuitton tie, a trip to Punta Cana and a sofa.

Outcome: Two weeks into his trial on June 29th, Williams abruptly resigned his office and pled guilty to one charge of corruption. Already, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics has fined him $62,000, the largest penalty ever. Now he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Given U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond’s attitude towards Williams, he may get it. Diamond ordered Williams to be handcuffed and immediately jailed—an action which surprised most everyone, including (it seems) Williams himself. “He betrayed his office and he sold his office,” Diamond said. “I am appalled by the evidence that I have heard.”

99

Chaka Fattah

U.S. House of Representatives

Chaka Fattah

U.S. House of Representatives

(1995 – 2016)

Corruption charge: Fattah was indicted for his role in a racketeering conspiracy that was intended to further his political and financial interests by misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal, charitable and campaign funds. Among other things, Fattah used $23,000 in nonprofit funds to pay college loans for his son, Chip—himself later convicted of fraud—and took an $18,000 bribe which he then used for a down payment on a vacation home.

Outcome: Fattah was found guilty on all 22 counts including racketeering, fraud and money laundering. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle noted that Fattah’ crimes were particularly "astonishing given that he and his wife had an annual income that put them at or near the top 1 percent.” Fattah, meanwhile, has maintained his innocence. “I’ve helped tens of millions of people,” he said. “(That) has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been found on the wrong side of these questions by a jury.”

99

Cherelle Parker

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Cherelle Parker

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(2005 – 2015)

Corruption charge: Cherelle Parker was charged with a DUI, discovered because she was driving the wrong way on a one-way street in Germantown. According to police, her blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Outcome: Parker was convicted, sentenced to three days in jail, and fined $1,000.

Originally, Parker’s case was dismissed by Municipal Judge Charles Hayden—who, as it turns out, was Facebook friends with Parker. Once that was revealed, a second judge reinstated the charges. Her career hasn’t suffered much, though: In 2015, she was elected to City Council, where she still serves.

99

Harold James

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Harold James

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(2012 – 2013)

Corruption charge: James was charged with bribery and conspiracy.

Outcome: James pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 23 months of probation.

Lobbyist Tyron Ali, wearing a wire, handed James money and was recorded telling him, "You know that I want to take care of you because I am going to need you later." James replied, "OK." But that wasn’t all: Prosecutors said James’ intent was made even clearer when he reached out to Ali later and asked how he could help him while in office.

99

John Perzel

Pennsylvania House of Representatives, House Speaker

John Perzel

Pennsylvania House of Representatives, House Speaker

(1979 – 2010)

Corruption charge: Perzel was charged with theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy.

Outcome: In August, 2011, Perzel pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges. He was later sentenced to 30 months in prison and $1 million dollars in restitution to the state.

“I’ve embarrassed myself, my family and the people of Pennsylvania,” Perzel said.

99

Joseph C. Waters, Jr.

Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge

Joseph C. Waters, Jr.

Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge

(2001 – 2014)

Corruption charge: Waters was charged with fixing cases on behalf of campaign donors and political allies, who in addition to cash gave him event tickets and alcohol.

Outcome: Waters was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison and a $5,500 fine as part of a deal with prosecutors.

"I’ve been over it and over it, and I can’t point out a single incident and say there was a switch that got turned," Waters said. "I wasn’t paying enough attention to my professional responsibility. My head was just out of the game."

99

Kathleen Kane

Pennsylvania Attorney General

Kathleen Kane

Pennsylvania Attorney General

(2013 – 2016)

Corruption charge: On the heels of the Porngate scandal that rocked the state judiciary, Kane was charged with perjury and abuse of her office.

Outcome: Kane was found guilty of two felony perjury charges and seven misdemeanors, and was sentenced to 23 months in prison.

“Maybe I deserve everything I get; they don’t,” she said, in reference to her sons. “I am not going to ask for your mercy because I don’t care about me anymore.”

99

LeAnna M. Washington

Pennsylvania Senate

LeAnna M. Washington

Pennsylvania Senate

(1993 – 2015)

Corruption charge: Indicted on felony charges of diversion of services and conflict of interest.

Outcome: In 2014, Washington—who had already lost in the primary—agreed to leave office early in exchange for retaining her retirement benefits, which included lifetime health insurance and a state pension. She faced three months of house arrest.

“I am the fucking Senator, I do what the fuck I want, and ain’t nobody going to change me,” Washington once told her chief of staff.

99

Leslie Acosta

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Leslie Acosta

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(2015 – 2017)

Corruption charge: Acosta was charged with embezzlement, in a scheme that involved Renee Tartaglione, her boss at a North Philly mental health clinic and the daughter of former City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione. Her illegal actions occurred before she was elected to the House—but she was charged while in office.

Outcome: Acosta pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering, and apparently cooperated with investigators.

At the time of her guilty plea last March, Acosta was running unopposed for reelection, which she won in November—without telling voters she was a convicted felon. She resigned on January 3, the date she would have been sworn in for the new session.

99

Michelle F. Brownlee

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Michelle F. Brownlee

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(2011 – 2015)

Corruption charge: Brownlee was charged with felony conflict of interest.

Outcome: She pleaded guilty for accepting money from a confidential informant. She was ordered to make $2,000 in restitution and pay $3,500 for the cost of prosecution to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.

According to investigators, lobbyist-turned-informant Tyron Ali handed Brownlee $2,000 in cash wrapped in a napkin during a walk in 2011. Brownlee later told The Inquirer she couldnt remember whether she accepted the money.

99

Rob McCord

Pennsylvania Treasurer

Rob McCord

Pennsylvania Treasurer

(2009 – 2015)

Corruption charge: Charged with extortion for using threats to try to squeeze around $125,000 in contributions from a law firm and a property management company to support his failed 2014 campaign for governor.

Outcome: McCord agreed to turn informant, and secretly wore a wire to record millionaire businessman Richard Ireland, who last summer was indicted for fraud in a sting that also captured former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer. McCord—himself caught through a wiretapped conversation—pleaded guilty. On the stand in March, he admitted engaging in a quid pro quo to secure a job for Ireland’s son. His sentencing has been delayed.

"Clearly, that was wrong," McCord has said. "I was wrong. It was a mistake. I stand ready to pay the price for that mistake."

99

Ronald D. Waters

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Ronald D. Waters

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(1999 – 2015)

Corruption charge: Waters was charged with criminal conspiracy, bribery, conflict of interest and failure to make required disclosures in statement of financial interests, during a widespread sting launched in 2010 by the state Attorney General’s office.

Outcome: Waters pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 months probation.

Soon-to-be-disgraced Attorney General Kathleen Kane dropped the case when she took office in 2013, only to have it picked up by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, also soon-to-be-disgraced. “I got caught up and I don’t know where my mind was," Waters told the judge in court in Dauphin County. "I’m not trying to make any excuses. The only thing I ask is, please look at the whole man."

99

J.P. Miranda

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

J.P. Miranda

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(2012 – 2014)

Corruption charge: Miranda—along with his sister, Michelle Wilson—was charged with conflict of interest, perjury and conspiracy for hiring a fake employee in order to funnel money to Wilson, against state ethics rules.

Outcome: Pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years probation.

Miranda, a one-term Congressman, never had time to make his mark. He was elected in 2012, and lost his bid for reelection two years later.

99

John Green

Philadelphia Sheriff

John Green

Philadelphia Sheriff

(1988 – 2010)

Corruption charge: Green was charged with taking bribes of upwards of six figures from firms owned by James R. Davis Jr., essentially giving Davis exclusive access to managing the sale of foreclosed properties.

Outcome: Case pending.

Green spent 22 years as Sheriff before retiring just as City Controller Alan Butkovitz was getting ready to release an audit that revealed Green’s alleged corruption. It was a dramatic downfall for Green, who took office promising to be a reformer, and who is credited with establishing a foreclosure diversion program that helps poor homeowners keep their houses.

99

Fortunato Perri, Sr.

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

Fortunato Perri, Sr.

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

(2006 – 2013)

Corruption charge: Perri was charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and ticket fixing in a widespread corruption case that eventually led to the shuttering of Philadelphia Traffic Court.

Outcome: Perri was convicted and sentenced to two years of federal probation.

Perri was recorded on wiretap telling one businessman, "When you call, I move, brother. Believe me, I move everybody."

99

Michael Lowry

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

Michael Lowry

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

(2008 – 2014)

Corruption charge: Lowry was one of several traffic court judges indicted in a ticket-fixing scheme.

Outcome: He was convicted of perjury, and sentenced to 20 months in prison for lying to a grand jury, as well as 100 hours of community service.

"I do regret allowing people outside my courtroom to ask for considerations," Lowry said. "I had the opportunity to say no. I didn’t do it."

99

Michael Sullivan

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

Michael Sullivan

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

( – 2013)

Corruption charge: Charged with tax fraud and ticket fixing, and with paying most of the staff at his family’s bar in South Philadelphia under the table in cash.

Outcome: Pleaded guilty for failing to report taxes and received a 10 month sentence for tax fraud.

Sullivan’s lawyer tried to convince the judge to be lenient on his client by claiming his crime was no big deal. "I’m not saying he didn’t plead guilty. I’m not saying he didn’t admit responsibility," Henry Hockeimer said. "But should he go to jail for that?" For Sullivan’s part, he told reporters that, "As far as I am concerned, I was indicted for doing my job."

99

H. Warren Hogeland

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

H. Warren Hogeland

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

(2006 – 2012)

Corruption charge: Hogeland was charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, routinely dismissing traffic tickets, and reducing fines or acquitting offenders at the request of other judges.

Outcome: Hogeland pleaded guilty and died prior to being sentenced.

In a statement referring to all the indicted traffic court judges, U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said, “The defendants participated in a widespread culture of giving breaks on traffic citations to friends, family, the politically connected, and business associates.”

99

Kenneth Miller

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

Kenneth Miller

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

(2011 – 2012)

Corruption charge: Miller was charged by federal authorities for his involvement in a Philadelphia Traffic Court ticket-fixing incident.

Outcome: He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year probation and $1000 fine.

“Mr. Miller was the only defendant who cooperated with the government,” Assistant Attorney General Anthony Wzorek said. “His participation (in the scheme) was minimal. He was only in traffic court for a short period of time.”

99

Robert Mulgrew

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

Robert Mulgrew

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

( – 2013)

Corruption charge: Charged with federal mail and fraud charges for siphoning tens of thousands of dollars of state funds intended for the Friends of Dickinson Square for his own personal benefit, including for leases on pickup trucks, extermination charges and cigarettes. He was also charged with perjury for lying to investigators during the Traffic Court scandal.

Outcome: Mulgrew was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and ordered to pay the state nearly $200,000 in retribution, as well as $123,000 in back taxes for the fraud. He later was given another 18 months, served consecutively, for lying to investigators.

"I’m very remorseful for my actions," Mulgrew told the judge at his sentencing. "I am sorry for my mistakes. They will never happen again."

99

Thomasine Tynes

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

Thomasine Tynes

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

(1989 – 2012)

Corruption charge: Charged with bribery for taking a $2,000 bracelet in an undercover sting, and with perjury related to the ticket fixing scandal.

Outcome: Tynes pleaded guilty to felony fraud for the bribery charge and was sentenced to 24 months in prison. She was also sentenced to 24 months for perjury, which she served concurrently.

"I don’t have any animosity toward anybody because I know how the system works," Tynes told the Inquirer when she was released. "It’s all about politics. It’s all about how you can get ahead in life and what you need to do. And people do things to advance their careers and what they want to do in life." She also said she was working on a memoir, titled From Judge to Jail.

99

Willie Singletary

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

Willie Singletary

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge

(2008 – 2012)

Corruption charge: Charged with conspiracy, fraud and perjury.

Outcome: He was acquitted of the corruption charges but he was sentenced to 20 months in jail for lying to the FBI investigators.

Singletary’s sentencing hearing was more like a church service than a trial, with the disgraced former traffic court judge playing the part of the minister. "I just wanted to help people, and that’s the God’s honest truth," Singletary said, according to the Inquirer. "Nothing—nothing—and I mean nothing—in this world satisfies me more than when I help someone and know I helped someone." He followed this up with a call to the packed audience—fellow congregants from his South Philly Baptist church—to stand with him. They did—and contributed some "Hallelujahs" and "Amens" to the proceedings.

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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