Philadelphia’s district attorney’s office is getting a shakeup at the top following news today that now-former District Attorney Seth Williams pleaded guilty to bribery and resigned.
Williams, who pleaded guilty to one count of accepting a bribe, was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs earlier today and was immediately detained. He’ll be sentenced in October and faces up to five years in prison.
Now it’s up to his first assistant district attorney Kathleen Martin to take over and get the office back on track. It’s unclear for how long she’ll be in charge. Philadelphia’s 80 Common Pleas Court judges could gather and select a replacement to serve until January, when the new district attorney is inaugurated. Martin said if she’s asked by the Board of Judges to take over until then, she’d do so. Democrat Larry Krasner and Republican Beth Grossman are set to face off in the general election in November. An independent can file petitions to join the race up until August.
During a press conference Thursday, Martin praised the work of her colleagues throughout a lengthy criminal investigation into their boss.
“I am proud of the work that the district attorney’s office has done under my guidance,” Martin said during a press conference Thursday, “and I will continue to do so to the best of my ability.”
Here are five things to know about Martin:
1. Loyal to Williams; learned about the plea via text
Martin found out early this morning that Williams planned to plead guilty to a charge of bribery and immediately resign. How’d she find out? He texted her. She didn’t elaborate on what the text said. However, she did continue to remain somewhat loyal to her former boss, praising his work.
“I think that he made a lot of progressive decisions,” she said, “and a lot of changes for good.”
2. She basically ran the office for months now
Martin, who was once Williams’ chief of staff and was promoted to first assistant district attorney earlier this year, has already been effectively running the office for several months. After Williams’ law license was stripped in March following the filing of criminal charges, he left day-to-day operations up to her.
Since she was hired in 2015 as Williams’ chief of staff, general counsel and chief integrity officer, Martin helped launch a new Conviction Review Unit, supervised several divisions and committees and served as the DA’s general counsel on civil matters. She had 25 years of experience practicing law when she was first hired by the District Attorney’s Office.
3. Remember that big manhunt in the Poconos? She helped.
Before Williams hired Martin in 2015, she was an assistant district attorney in Pike County, PA where she assisted Pennsylvania State Police and other law enforcement in a month-long manhunt of Eric Frein.
Frein, you’ll remember, is a convicted murderer who was sentenced to death for ambushing a state police barracks, killing an officer, seriously injuring another and leading officials on a 48-day manhunt in 2014. He was convicted earlier this year.
4. Her weird connection to PA political drama
According to The Inquirer, Martin is married to Robert Levant, the lawyer who represented Tyron Ali. That’s the former lobbyist who worked with the feds, wore a wire and helped catch Philadelphia elected officials on tape accepting bribes.
If you’ve been following the Shakespearean drama that is Pennsylvania politics, you’ll remember the saga involving Ali was part of a series of events that ensnared former attorney general Kathleen Kane and partly led to her current status: Also behind bars.
5. The job wasn’t her first rodeo in Philly
Martin is kind of a Philly girl. She got her undergraduate degree from Villanova and then went on to study at Temple Law. She practiced criminal law in Philadelphia before moving to Pike County.