D.A. to Charge Two More in Abandoned Sting

Seth Williams

District Attorney Seth Williams

The Inquirer reports that D.A. Seth Williams is expected to bring charges against two more figures from the so-called “abandoned sting” case that Attorney General Kathleen Kane earlier decided not to prosecute.

District Attorney Seth Williams is expected to announce charges against State Reps. Vanessa Lowery Brown and Ronald G. Waters, both Philadelphia Democrats, for allegedly accepting cash from an undercover operative, according to people familiar with the matter.

According to investigative documents reviewed by The Inquirer, Waters pocketed the most money from the undercover operative of any of the five politicians caught up in the sting – $8,250 in eight payments.

In the documents, Brown is described as having received the second most – $5,000, in six payments.

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Charges Dropped in Philly Attempted Murder Case

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office has dropped charges against Tomayo McDuffy, a Holmesburg man once accused of attempted murder in a home invasion case in Northeast Philadelphia. He was accused by a blind neighbor who said she recognized his voice.

The original incident happened in May of 2013. Yolanda Colon, a blind woman, said two men broke into her house; her service dog was able to scare off the intruders and fetch her phone to call 911. (Good boy!) The victim said she recognized a voice belonging to McDuffy, her next-door neighbor.

Colon said the intruders left her gas on. McDuffy was arrested and charged with attempted murder. But questions abounded: Supporters claimed Colon left the gas on herself and pegged McDuffy as the culprit because of a longstanding grudge; McDuffy’s backers said Colon had a history of wrongfully accusing people.

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Report: Ex-Traffic Judge Will Plead to Accepting Bracelet

Thomasine Tynes, left. The bracelet she's alleged to have accepted from a undercover confidential informant for the attorney general's office.

Thomasine Tynes, left. The bracelet she’s alleged to have accepted from a undercover confidential informant for the attorney general’s office.

Thomasine Tynes, the former Traffic Court judge who became the first — and so far only — person charged with a crime stemming from Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s abandoned sting of Philadelphia politicians, will plead to charges in the case and is cooperating with prosecutors. She had been accused of accepting a $2,000 Tiffany bracelet from an undercover confidential informant working for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office.

The information appeared in a sentencing memo prepared by Tynes’ lawyer, Louis R. Busico, on an unrelated perjury conviction related to the ticket-fixing scandal that resulted in the Traffic Court’s demise. (The full memorandum is below.) Busico wrote:
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Abu-Jamal Sues to Overturn New Law

ABU JAMAL

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted cop-killer who has spent the last three decades in prison, is suing to overturn a new law intended to keep him and other notorious prisoners from speaking out publicly.

The law, passed in the wake of Abu-Jamal’s October commencement speech to students at Goddard College in Vermont, lets crime victims — or prosecutors — sue inmates whose behavior behind bars continues to create anguish for the victims.
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UPDATE: Judge Faces Charges for Accepting Bracelet

[Update 11:37 a.m.] District Attorney Seth Williams brought the $2,000 Tiffany bracelet with him to the press conference:

Photo | 6ABC

Image via 6ABC

Williams said the case against Tynes is “press and play” — prosecutors will just have to play the tapes of Tynes accepting the bracelet, recorded by investigators during the sting operation.

These are the only charges brought out of that investigation so far, but Williams said the investigation continues against Philly state representatives who were also caught on tape taking gifts from an undercover informant.

He added that any suggestions of racial profiling — offered by Attorney General Kathleen Kane as a reason for originally dropping the case — are a distraction.

Williams’ official statement on the case:

The grand jury’s findings:

The office also released three photos — one of Tynes, two of the bracelet:



[Original 10 a.m.] Thomasine Tynes, a retired Traffic Court judge, will face state corruption charges, Fox 29 reports.

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Death of 3-Year-Old May Spark New Gun Rules

Spurred by this month’s death of 3-year-old Tynirah Borum in a shootout, D.A. Seth Williams led a group of local officials this afternoon in calling for new rules requiring a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence for illegal firearm possession.

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Authorities: South Philly Man Stored Deer Blood, Carcasses to Stage Crashes

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced yesterday the results of a 16-month grand jury investigation: 41 people charged in a massive insurance fraud scam. The alleged kingpin? Ron Galati Sr., a reputed mob associate who is already charged in multiple murder-for-hire plots. Busy guy!

“I live my life to cheat insurance companies,” cooperating witnesses were quoted as saying in the Daily News. “My high every day is to cheat insurance companies.” Progressive and Erie Insurance Companies were the first to alert the authorities.

The fraud was an elaborate one, prosecutors say. Multiple grand jury witnesses testified Galati kept deer carcasses, hair, and blood in his shop in order to stage deer collisions. Those are usually deemed non-fault accidents, so the insured party would not be found at fault.

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Philadelphia Looking to Overturn Bad Convictions

Prison

A few weeks back, District Attorney Seth Williams did something amazing: He said he was going to start looking for innocent people and free them from prison.

More precisely, he appointed homicide prosecutor Mark Gilson to lead a “conviction integrity unit” to comb through old cases, look for possible wrongful convictions, and get those convictions overturned. Overturning convictions, of course, is not something that prosecutors like to see happen.

marissa_bluesteinBut Williams made the move with the support of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, a non-profit office staffed with interns from law schools around the city, which has a mission of undoing wrongful convictions. Marissa Boyers Bluestine is the project’s legal director. She spoke to Philly Mag recently about the new position, and why it’s worth it to Philly to try and help the wrongfully convicted.

“We’re not saying that we can tell you who’s innocent and who’s not, but we need the partnership to be able to make that determination,” she said, “and we’re very proud to be doing it with the district attorney.” Read more »

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