Philly NOW president: transfers not enough; fire ‘porngate’ prosecutors

     Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams accompanied by investigators Marc Costanzo, (left), and Frank Fina, after a news conference Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams accompanied by investigators Marc Costanzo, (left), and Frank Fina, after a news conference Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    In a move that seems destined to satisfy no one, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has transferred three senior prosecutors tainted by the “porngate” email scandal to non-supervisory jobs within his office, at full pay.

    Frank Fina, Marc Costanzo, and Patrick Blessington will have new jobs beginning Monday. Fina goes the civil litigation unit. Costanzo will be in the appeals unit. And Blessington will work in the post-conviction relief act unit.

    Nina Ahmad, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization of Women thinks they should be on the street.

    “People are really outraged by this,” Ahmad said in a phone interview, “and we need to really put this thing to rest.”

    She called for the firing of the three men, a move also endorsed by City Council in a non-binding resolution that passed Thursday.

    Williams made the three men take a day of sensitivity training after it was revealed that they’d been involved with offensive emails while they were prosecutors years before in the state attorney general’s office.

    Calls for their departure have gradually escalated and accelerated this week when the Philadelphia Daily News published stories with new tales of alleged gender and racial bias.

    To explain Williams’ response, the DA’s office put reporters in touch with Kathleen Martin, the office’s new chief of staff, general counsel, and integrity officer.

    Asked why the men were transferred, she said, “The purpose was to put any issues behind us in the office, and take them [the three prosecutors] out of any supervisory role and any appearance of prosecutorial authority, so we can get the citizens of Philadelphia, and keep their faith in us, that we’re still prosecuting crime on a daily basis to keep our city safe. We just want to put this behind us and keep moving forward to do the right thing.”

    Asked why there was a need to restore confidence in the office, she said, “We’re not admitting that there’s any lack of confidence, but we just want to move forward so that citizens know that they do have faith, trust and confidence in us.”

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