Philadelphia District Attorney plans anti-corruption task force

    Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s office says it’s taking steps to become more aggressive in prosecuting local political corruption.

    Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s office says it’s taking steps to become more aggressive in prosecuting local political corruption.

    Curtis Douglas is the deputy of investigations in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. He says DA Seth Williams wants to form a corruption task force. The group would meet quarterly and include the city inspector general, the chief integrity officer, solicitor, city controller, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, and the watchdog group the Committee of Seventy.

    “The point is to introduce all of those agencies to the District Attorney’s Office,” says Douglas. “Now, I know that sounds strange, but the idea is that we’re looking to go into corruption and prosecuting corruption cases. Most of the agencies that deal with corruption generally refer their cases to either the US Attorney’s Office or the Attorney General’s Office. The District Attorney wants them to come to the DA’s Office so that we can prosecute them.”

    Douglas says the first taskforce meeting will likely be in July or August.

    Philadelphia attorney Peter Vaira is a former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He says it’s a good idea for the DA to do more work investigating and political corruption cases but it would take more resources.

    “I’ve seen a lot of these task forces formed across the United States,” says Vaira. “I worked in Chicago and in other places. And they sound good on paper, they’re usually ineffective. The District Attorney just doesn’t have the horsepower. You can’t just do it with only lawyers. You need investigators and you need an immense amount of time.”

    In defense of the District Attorney, Vaira says he’s busy dealing with fires, rapes and murders.

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