Plea could mean more corruption exposed in Philadelphia

A guilty plea with a promise of cooperation could be the beginning of more corruption probes in Philadelphia. 

Insurance broker Kobie West has admitted in court that he defrauded the Philadelphia Housing Authority to the tune of more than $2 million. West said he submitted fake invoices for workmen’s compensation insurance.

As part of a plea agreement, West has agreed to cooperate with the federal government on other matters.

Zack Stalberg of the Committee of 70, a political watchdog group, said the promise to name names of those who have accepted bribes or kickbacks should send a shudder through city political circles.

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“Certainly there’s probably a lot of people who received benefits from this contractor that are worried about what he’ll say,” said Stalberg.

Stalberg said this is part of the old culture that still hangs on in some parts of city government.

“I think pay to play has been beaten back in a number of places, but clearly the Philadelphia Housing Authority, as it was formerly constituted, was not one of them,” he said. “So it is easier in some of these more obscure agencies for that kind of thing to go on.” 

A spokesperson for the authority says it has installed a new procurement system to prevent the situation from recurring.

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