Philly DA will pick up corruption probe dropped by AG Kathleen Kane

 DA Seth Williams (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

DA Seth Williams (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

In March, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane drew criticism for deciding not to prosecute four Pennsylvania lawmakers who took gifts from a lobbyist as part of a failed sting operation.  Now a Philadelphia grand jury will review the case.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams quoted everyone from Plato to Rambo, while announcing his grand jury investigation.

“Because of the high profile of this case, I thought it was essential for the public to understand I won’t allow this case to just disappear,” Williams said.  “From this point forward the case will be under protection of grand jury secrecy law.”

Williams said he expects the investigation to take several months, including a review of what he calls “convincing audio and video” of alleged corrupt acts.

“This matter has great gravity and I understand that and we aren’t going to put our heads in the sand. The opposite of courage isn’t fear, the opposite of courage is indifference. The public deserves more than indifference I just can’t hide out and act like nothing happened,” he said.

The Philadelphia Inquirer first broke the story, identifying state Rep. Ronald Waters, state Rep. Vanessa Brown, state Rep. Michelle Brownlee, and state Rep. Louise Williams Bishop as having taken cash gifts from a lobbyist who was cooperating with authorities.  The paper also reported former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes was implicated in the probe.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane has said she chose not to prosecute the lawmakers because the investigation was flawed, tainted by racism and would likely fail.  She has shared documents from her the AG’s investigation with Williams.


Williams says he is taking on the case to prove that even the powerful will be held accountable.


“We’re not going to let this go.  We’re not going to have a separate standard for Pookie and Man Man selling a couple of vials of crack on a corner versus someone in the capital rotunda,” he said.


Prosecutor Mark Gilson will head up the grant jury team.


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

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal