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Philadelphia’s top prosecutor is pleading guilty to a single charge of corruption midway through his federal criminal trial and could face up to five years in prison.
District Attorney Seth Williams will resign effective immediately following his guilty plea. Federal investigators charged Williams with nearly 30 counts of bribery, extortion and wire fraud in connection with five separate schemes he’s accused of orchestrating. The judge in his case ordered Williams to be immediately detained.
According to NBC10, Williams will plead guilty to a single count of accepting a bribe, will pay a significant fine and could face five years behind bars. The Inquirer is reporting that Williams told prosecutors he’d take their deal at 1 a.m. this morning.
Williams, a two-term district attorney, announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election following news that he was under federal investigation. Still, he resisted calls to resign after charges were filed, and he initially pleaded not guilty to the charges. His attorneys denied wrongdoing on Williams’ part, saying that “[s]imply because the government makes explosive allegations in a complaint doesn’t mean they’re going to prove it in a court of law.”
Federal prosecutors laid out a host of alleged transgressions over two weeks in court. Among the crimes Williams was accused of: Taking gifts from businessmen in exchange for official acts as DA, failing to report said gifts, using government cars for personal transportation and stealing money from his own mother. Business owners in the city and suburbs testified about gifts they gave Williams, and favors extracted in return.
Williams’ trial has lasted about two weeks so far. While all the other counts besides one were dropped, Williams reportedly “admits that he committed all of the conduct in those 29 counts.”
It’s still unclear who will take over the District Attorney’s Office until the newly-elected DA is inaugurated in January, however it’s likely the first assistant district attorney will take over as the acting head of the office.
Williams will be sentenced in October.
More to come.