PHILADELPHIA – Former Philadelphia District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams, who previously admitted that he accepted tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of concealed bribes in exchange for his agreement to perform official acts, defrauded a nursing home and family friends of money earmarked for a family member’s care, and used political action committee funds and official government vehicles for his personal benefit, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison.
Williams, 50, of Philadelphia, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond to Count One of a superseding indictment charging him with travel and use of interstate facilities to promote and facilitate bribery contrary to Pennsylvania law.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From July 2010 through May 2015, Williams had an arrangement with Mohammad N. Ali (identified in the indictment as “Business Owner #1”) in which Williams, while serving as the Philadelphia District Attorney, accepted trips, money, and other things of value in exchange for performing and agreeing to perform official acts on behalf of Ali, including contacting a Philadelphia police official in order to pressure and advise the official to assist Ali with security screenings at the airport. Williams also agreed to assist with criminal charges brought by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office against Ali’s associate.
From March 2012 through July 2015, Williams had an arrangement with Michael Weiss (identified in the superseding indictment as “Business Owner #2”) in which Williams accepted airline tickets, money, an automobile, and other things of value in exchange for performing and agreeing to perform official acts on behalf of Weiss, including appointing him as Special Advisor to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office in November 2012 and providing an official letter to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in order to influence a then-pending hearing to revoke or suspend Weiss’ California liquor license. In July 2015, Williams also obtained a police accident report at Weiss’ request.
In addition, from February 2012 through November 2013, Williams diverted his mother’s pension and Social Security payments to pay for his own personal expenses instead of applying them to his mother’s nursing home costs, as was his obligation under agreements with the nursing home. After accepting $10,000 from his mother’s friends intended to cover expenses for her nursing home care, Williams spent that money on his personal expenses as well.
From August 2010 through August 2016, Williams also defrauded the “The Committee to Elect Seth Williams” by using its funds for personal expenditures, including parties, birthday dinners, massages, and fitness classes. He concealed this fraud by providing false or incomplete reports to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to the City of Philadelphia.
Lastly, Williams engaged in a scheme to use official vehicles – which were provided by the City of Philadelphia and a federal narcotics law enforcement program – for his personal benefit. Williams used the vehicles to transport himself, family members, friends and other non-employees on non-district attorney business, including personal trips outside of Philadelphia.
“In his position as Philadelphia’s District Attorney, Williams abused the trust placed in him by the public and today’s sentencing sends a clear message that such action will not be tolerated,” said Acting IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Edward Wirth. “Today’s sentencing is a direct result of the excellent partnership IRS-CI, our fellow law enforcement partners, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have in combating violations of federal law.”
“Homeland Security Investigations is pleased to have teamed with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable public officials who betray the trust of the community they are sworn to serve by engaging in criminal behavior,” said Marlon V. Miller, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia. “Let Mr. Williams’ sentencing serve as a proof that HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and bring to justice public officials who feel they are above the law.”
In addition to the prison term, Judge Diamond sentenced Williams to three years of supervised release. Judge Diamond also ordered Williams to pay forfeiture of $33,009 and restitution of $58,422.83.