Former Philly sheriff faces corruption trial

A man walks past the federal courthouse in Philadelphia

The federal courthouse in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The corruption trial of yet another former Philadelphia elected official gets underway this week in federal court. Former Philadelphia Sheriff John Green and an associate, Jim Davis, are charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, honest-services fraud, and other offenses.

Green was elected Philadelphia sheriff in 1987 as a reform candidate. He served 22 years and left abruptly  in 2011 when questions arose about financial practices in the office.

After a lengthy investigation, a grand jury charged Green and Davis in 2015. It’s taken more than two years for the case to come to trial, in part because of the complexity of the case and the number of documents that could be introduced into evidence.

Prosecutors charge that at Green’s direction, the sheriff’s office gave businesses owned by Davis lucrative deals, and Davis rewarded Green with campaign contributions and expensive gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The sheriff’s office manages the sale of foreclosed properties in Philadelphia.

The indictment charges that companies owned by Davis got contracts to advertise sheriff sales and perform other functions, such as preparing and executing deeds for tax sales.

In return, the feds say, Davis helped Green in numerous ways – giving his wife a job, helping Green purchase a Florida retirement home, and providing more than $200,000 in services to Green’s election campaign in violation of city campaign finance laws.

Both men say they’re innocent. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.