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Philadelphia district attorney indicted on corruption, bribery charges

By Ed Adamczyk

March 22 (UPI) -- A federal grand jury indicted Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams on 23 counts, including bribery and corruption.

Charges against Williams, 50, include confiscating money intended for a relative's nursing home and diverting the funds for personal use. The two-term Democrat announced last week that he will not seek re-election but has not indicated that he will resign.

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The relative is Williams' mother, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"The indictment alleges that as district attorney, Mr. Williams compromised himself and his elected office by standing ready to help those who were willing to pay him with money, trips and cars. Mr. Williams' alleged willingness to compromise his position of public trust in exchange for private financial gain is all the more unfortunate given that he was elected to protect the interests of the people of Philadelphia as their chief law enforcement officer," New Jersey U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

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Fitzpatrick is overseeing the case because the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, territory which includes Philadelphia, recused himself.

The formal charges against Williams include bribery, extortion, honest services wire fraud, and also defrauding a nursing home. Honest services fraud can be defined as a public official denying a person his or her intangible right to honest services.

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Investigators accused Williams of using his influence and offering intervention in cases in exchange for cash, luxury vacations, a Jaguar convertible and other expensive gifts. He allegedly took more than $20,000 in pension income and Social Security benefits from his mother, the charges said, funds intended to pay for her nursing home needs.

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Williams' lawyer, Michael Diamondstein, said Tuesday that Williams "vehemently denies that he ever compromised any investigation, case or law enforcement function. Williams rejected a plea deal from prosecutors earlier this week.

The total of gifts he allegedly received was more than $100,000. He will be arraigned on Wednesday.

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