Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Seth Williams Barred From Union League

By Ralph Cipriano

One night last week, R. Seth Williams, our scandal-plagued District Attorney, stopped by the Union League.

But on this night, Williams, a longtime league member, was denied entry into the French Renaissance mansion built in 1865 that occupies an entire Center City block.

Williams, according to a knowledgable source, was informed that he was no longer considered a member of the private club that bills itself as a "shining jewel of history in a city defined by such treasures." That's because Williams hasn't been paying his bills at the club where dues run about $400 a month, or $4,800 a year.

So Williams left and returned with a $5,000 check. The only problem was, the check, according to the source, was drawn on the D.A.'s political action committee. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the reasons Williams is being investigated by a federal grand jury is for alleged use of political funds to pay personal expenses. Not that Seth spending campaign money at the Union League would necessarily be doing anything illegal.

With an ethical cloud hanging over our D.A., however, the Union League wouldn't take the check. But the FBI is aware of its existence.

Jeffrey P. McFadden, the Union League's general manager, did not respond to a request for comment; neither did Patricia Tobin, the league's assistant general manager, who supposedly wound up with the check.

John J. Pease, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney who is Williams' criminal lawyer, was out of the office and not available for comment. Cameron Kline, Williams' spokesman at the District Attorney's Office, declined comment.

In recent years, Williams has been a fixture at the Union League, throwing lavish lunches and dinners there. A common sight when Williams visited the Union League on a sweltering summer day was seeing the D.A.'s two big bodyguards posted outside the club sweating in their suits, while the boss was inside enjoying the air conditioning, and puffing on a cigar.

Williams has a habit of using campaign funds to pay off his debts at the Union League. It's a practice that can be argued is perfectly legal, as Williams can say he's elevating his profile at the Union League while socializing with constituents and campaign contributors. But those campaign records, as well as Seth's bills at the Union League that were subpoenaed a while back, are something that the U.S. Attorney, the FBI and a grand jury are looking at, to make sure all of that money was spent on political causes, not personal.

It may be legal to throw campaign money around at the Union League, but doing it while the feds are on your tail might also qualify as just plain dumb.

Last March, the Inquirer reported that the Friends of Seth Williams, the D.A.'s longtime political action committee, listed nearly $19,000 on its 2015 campaign finance statement for dues and expenses at the Union League.

The campaign finance report for the Friends of Seth Williams in 2014 lists $28,509 for membership dues, lunches and dinner expenses at the Union League, 24 percent out of $116,518 of the PAC's expenses for that year.

The 2013 report for the Friends of Seth Williams lists only $5,569 in dues and lunch expenses, while the 2012 report lists $26,820 in membership dues and lunch expenses.

The grand jury is also known to be investigating the D.A.'s acceptance of $175,000 in undeclared gifts and income, actions that caused Williams to be fined $62,000 by the city's Ethics Board. The term of the grand jury, originally scheduled to expire last month, has been extended into March, meaning a decision on whether to indict the D.A. could be coming soon.

Meanwhile, at the Union League last week, Williams was told that the club wouldn't accept the check drawn on his PAC. He was asked to pay up with a certified bank check made out to the club.

There is no word yet on whether Williams has paid up his debts, and whether he is back to smoking stogies inside the Union League.


  1. Best I can tell, the campaign fund didn't pay any money at all to the Union League in 2016, and this latest attempt would not have become public knowledge until Feb 1, 2018, now that Williams has dropped out of the race.

    In other words, he started to clean up his act, but now that the heat is off, time to empty the campaign piggy bank.

    There's still the issue of the $8272 transferred from the old fund to the new fund on 12/31/2015, which appears to have gotten lost in the mail, since the opening balance on the new fund on 1/1/2016 was $0 and the $8272 wasn't reported at any point in the year.

    Also interesting is that Pease is apparently not being paid from the fund.

  2. Ralph, thank you for all of your thoughtful reporting on Williams' incompetence?, misfeasance?, malfeasance while in office. It's disgraceful that he's lasted this long. Now, could you turn your lens to Tarik el-Shabazz? It's like we'll go from the frying pan directly into the fire should he be elected.

  3. I agree, we should be questioning why Tarik stood by a man that was not even following state law on domestic abuse as well as undermining the police. What can we expect if he stood by as a party to the outrages,do we believe now that Tarik will suddenly be able to do right by the citizens of the city when to date he has not spoken out about out these offenses.
    If a code of silence exists for police, there certainly seems to be one that prosecutors follow as well.

  4. he's a disgrace, and hopefully, his free spending lifestyle will be brought to an abrupt halt soon with an indictment by the feds.

    Bribes, free home improvements, sweetheart 60% off current rental value homes for his exwife, get out of jail passes for his ex-girlfriend, sideline eagle passes, he's the epitome of a typical crooked, self grandizing politician

    so why wouldn't malicious prosecutions of innocent men like Bernard Shero, Fathers Lynn and Engelhardt and even Avery based on the lies and deceit offered up by that drug addict/drug dealing prolific liar Danny Gallagher be in his wheelhouse...
    he thought that wrongful, malicious prosecution would be the springboard to higher office, attorney General perhaps or even Govenor.....I don't think so Seth.....

    this latest article just proves he's still as arrogant and ignorant as ever....he belongs in jail

    1. You may have forgotten to mention that prosecuting enemies of donors would be a springboard as well, at least a springboard out of 3 Penn Sq.

      But not to higher office.

      Stay tuned.

  5. A recent Inky article asked for the public's help in saving journalists rights to speak their minds, the reporter said he does not see journalists marching in the streets for their rights to free press and thought the public needed to speak up and demand the continuation of journalists ability to speak and write freely.

    I'm all for it, totally in favor, except journalist at the Inky seem to have little knowledge of free press, unless its what they give to the prosecution at all times, free press, no defendant feels that they have ever read anything remotely like an accurate account of their situation, the public is usually only privy to one side, the prosecution side.

    The Inky is using the slogan "The Truth Matters Most Right Now" Support Journalism you Can Trust.

    Well that seems only to apply to the Inkys idea of the truth, there seems to be an awful lot of other truths that never make it to their pages. One sided truths, inconvenient truths that will never see the light of day.

    I suggest a new catchphrase for the Inky "The Truth As the Feds See It Matter Most to Us" or "The Truth As We Are Instructed to Print", seems more in line with what a defendant reads, the public is being denied the whole truth.

    The author goes on to say that he thinks the public can handle the truth, I also believe the public can handle the truth, its the prosecution that can't handle the truth and we do want the truth more than anything.

    You Inky are either in the dark or pretending to be in the dark. Its not working, don't count on me protesting for your rights when you do not stand up for defendants rights.

    1. I think you make some good points, but I think you also paint all prosecutions with too broad of a brush.

      Federal prosecutions may be overzealous at times, but rarely do the reach the Moby Dick-level maliciousness that the Lynn prosecution reaches. Nor do they reach the vindictiveness of the Peruto investigation. The common denominator is Willliams.

      If the media had done its job, it likely would have never endorsed Williams in the first place. Being called an "empty suit" by a former boss and 19yr DA probably should have carried more weight. Even after that, an ounce of skepticism might have brought more light to the archdiocese case.

      Finally, the point of public reporting of campaign finance information is so that the media can keep the politicians honest. How the media missed 6 years of blank financial disclosures is mind boggling. The Inky, meanwhile, will write story after story about political donors before it ever connects the dots.

  6. I totally disagree,federal prosecutors are overzealous at all times, I have witnessed the Moby Dick level of lies told by the prosecution personally, only it was never covered in any newspaper, so you are unaware of the facts.

    Had the media covered the obvious aggressions you would have been more enlightened.

    Your remark about the media holding politicians accountable neglected to offer a solution as to who is policing the prosecution.As the Inky does not print blatant offenses they witness firsthand against defendants, not one word is printed against the prosecution ever, no one is aware of their gross violations.

    There is no accountability on the part of the prosecution, the FBI or the IRS.During a seminar at the Quattrone Center For the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Sidney Powell, former federal prosecutor and author, Joanna Epps Dean of Temple Law School and David Rudovsky of Penn's Law School spoke about there being no accountability,Brady violations, Open File Discovery, Disclosure of Files. There is a movement in the country trying to promote a more fair justice system but unless the Inky makes the public aware of the exceptional work done by knowledge people highlighting prosecutors that violate laws regularly all is lost. Without the media holding the prosecution liable their crimes continue.

    Those that have witnessed or have been the recipient of the wrath of prosecutors can speak firsthand of the abuse,prosecutors inventing crimes and using the media to spin their side of the case has made it impossible for those trying to tell of their experiences at the hands of the government.

    I can go so far as to say the prosecution is guilty of crimes against humanity, they use a systematic attack directed against indefensible defendants and their families. I use indefensible as anyone that has been accused of a crime by their own government does not stand much of a chance. The best lawyers in the country only have partial success defending the accused. No one can prepare you for being betrayed by your government,there is no life rebuilding when the media and your own beloved government brands you a criminal. Without the support of a non-biased media defendants do not stand a chance.

    The Inky speaks of truth but talk is all we are getting, no results.

    1. There's a difference, though, between overzealous and malicious.

      I agree that in general, prosecutions are overzealous. Part of this may stem from there simply being too many criminal laws or plea bargaining or grand juries or whatever.

      The difference I see is that federal prosecutors move on when they lose a case. We've seen it several times this year.

      Seth Williams, on the other hand, is still planning to retry William Lynn after being reversed twice. Even though the conviction was re-instated once, the simple fact that it was reversed at all should tell a prosecutor to devote resources somewhere else. Same with the mistrial priest, same with the JLWOPs, etc.

      I see federal prosecutors trying to win cases, ONCE. I don't see any evidence that they persist after a loss.

      That's the difference between Williams and the Feds. That's not to downplay the other issues you mention, but public opinion unfortunately remains pro-prosecution at the moment.

  7. Federal prosecutors when they lose just morph in another direction, they don't go away,they come after your family, co-workers, friends, your business or your community. Can't agree there.

    Seth Williams retrying Lynn is about ego, had the Inky published the truth about Gallagher, there would be public outrage against another trial.

    Pro-prosecution, I agree, here is where we need truth in journalism now more than ever, interviewing both sides of a case, would be a start.

    Prosecutors do not use discretion when deciding whom to indict, the sheer number of prosecutors has led to a higher amount of indictments, plea bargains and the increase in mass incarceration. Indicting on ethic issues and inventing crimes is commonplace today. Citizens are used as pawns to advance federal prosecutors careers.

    1. But are you the victim of a prosecution-for-hire? Did a donor pay $_,___.00 into Seth Williams's campaign fund in 20__ to get rid of you?

      I guess, though, when a prosecution ruins your life, the specific reasons are not entirely relevant.

  8. What the government did to my family could be made into a movie or a documentary at least, although since I have been talking to others that have been similarly mistreated by their own governments, all the plots would be the same.

    Government gets someone with disreputable past or with questionable activities to say a defendant either committed a crime or encouraged them to commit a crime. Then feds threaten family members and defendant with extraordinarily long jail time if they don't plea bargain, all the while making up a scenario of what possibly may have taken place, if nothing presents as a crime, they make one up.

    The people most trusted (or so I thought) in our country, prosecutors, FBI agents and IRS agents lie. They lie to benefit themselves and their careers. How shocking it is to realize when the truth comes to light that, there was no crime after all, it was invented.

    My life and the lives of many defendants would have turned out much differently if the Inky was not on the same side as the prosecution.

    The Inky seems to be more interested in the tabloid variety of reporting what is happening in the criminal justice system, go with the sensational not the truth. Never mind that the inaccurate reporting has taken such a tremendous toll on its victims. Shaming citizens is in fashion in the country at the moment.

    Not having a fair and honest media is allowing the prosecution to run wild, its sickening to have the Inky pat themselves on the back for all their so called "corruption" cases without interviewing the defendants.

    Swaying the public in favor of the prosecution is sending innocents to jail for invented crimes and ruining families and communities. Let the prosecution fight their own battles, stand up for the rights of citizens,the government does not need your help, we do.

  9. Ralph, found this today, this fits in line with the Lynn case.

    No-Crime Cases. A record 94 exonerations in 2016 were cases in which we now know that no crime actually occurred, more than half of the total. As with guilty-plea exonerations,most no-crime exonerations were drug possession cases (59/94), but fifteen of the 16 child sex abuse exonerations were no-crime cases.
    Four of the no-crime child sex abuse exonerees—the San Antonio Four—were convicted as part of a nationwide epidemic of child sex abuse hysteria that led to dozens if not hundreds of criminal prosecutions and convictions of innocent defendants in the 1980s and 1990s. These
    prosecutions were based on aggressive and suggestive interviews of children who were thought to be victims, and usually included bizarre and implausible claims by the supposed victims, frequently featuring satanic rituals. The San Antonio Four are the most recent of 55
    such exonerations in the Registry. They were convicted in 1998, at the tail end of the epidemic. We may see more such cases in the coming years, but most likely they have run their course.

    Part of the 2016 National Registry of Exonerations, Found today on the Marshall Report. March 8, 2016


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