When a grand jury announced there would be no prosecutions in the death of his girlfriend, defense attorney Chuck Peruto took square aim at District Attorney Seth Williams, calling the prosecutor a “fat prick.” Looks like the war isn’t going to end there.
The Inquirer reports that Philly D.A. Seth Williams is running for a seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees. “Elected last fall to his second four-year term as D.A., Williams acknowledged his Philadelphia job is time-consuming. But he is undeterred by the time and travel he would have to put in as an unpaid trustee of the State College-based school. The board holds two days of meetings at least a half-dozen times a year, and there are additional sessions, such as last week’s meeting to hire a new president. ‘They say if you want something to get done, give it to a busy person,’ Williams said.” There are three open seats on the 32-member board.
D.A. Seth Williams and Sen. Pat Toomey have both weighed in against President Obama’s pick of Debo Adegbile to lead the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Adegibile, earlier in his career, defended convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Juamal.
The Daily News reports that former D.A. Lynne Abraham and current D.A. Seth Williams apparently haven’t smoothed over their rocky relationship. Williams’ remarks about the arrest of Rep. J.P. Miranda — saying prosecutors “will no longer abdicate our responsibility to investigate” political corruption — were interpreted as a swipe at Abraham, his predecessor and onetime mentor.
Who was not impressed:
The lawyer for Monsignor William J. Lynn, the former Archdiocese of Philadelphia official currently free on bail after his landmark 2012 conviction on child endangerment charges was overturned last week, has blasted D.A. Seth Williams for criticizing the appeals court’s ruling.
A federal judge has overturned the conviction of a man who’s been on death row for the past 21 years, finding that his conviction in the death of a teenager killed over her earrings was based on ”scant evidence at best.”
That conviction was dismissed late Wednesday by a federal judge in a scathing ruling, but not before James Dennis had served two decades on death row.
“When I first heard it, I couldn’t believe it. When the lawyer called, I was on my feet. I was dancing. I was giving God the praise, because this is something we have been praying for from day one,” said Dennis’ mother, Juanita Dennis.
Chedell Ray Williams, 17, a student at Olney High School, was killed in October 1991 by two men who demanded her $450 earrings. Dennis was the only person ever charged with the crime.
The weapon used in the shooting and the earrings were never recovered and police found no forensic evidence against Dennis. His conviction was based on testimony from three eyewitnesses, although other witnesses had said the shooter was taller and weighed more.
Brody in her 40-page opinion said police never told the defense about evidence that might have led in other directions. As one example, a girl who was with Williams told relatives she recognized the killers from school and knew their nicknames.
The victim’s mother, Barbara Williams, was disturbed upon hearing the news in the case from a Daily News reporter. “I’m really disappointed about that with all that’s going on with so many kids that are getting shot the same way my daughter was,” she said.
District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement that he was disappointed with the decision, saying Dennis’ lawyers presented “slanted factual allegations.” Williams said his office will consider whether to retry Dennis.
You can read the judge’s entire ruling here:
After I published excerpts from this anonymous anti-Seth Williams letter that was sent to employees of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, I found out about another anti-Seth Williams letter. This one was sent to members of the Public Defender’s office.
To me it seems obvious that the letters share an author with a strange sense of humor as well as a peculiar fondness for early-’80s Who songs, and this second letter makes allegations similar to those in the first.
Recently, sources inside the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office have been buzzing about a letter that was sent to many of the office’s employees by some anonymous person or group of people blasting D.A. Seth Williams with a bevy of allegations and poetic hyperbole.
That such a letter would be sent is not surprising, considering the level of unrest and low morale in the office over the last few years; one former prosecutor filed a federal discrimination suit against Williams just weeks ago. But getting a copy of this over-the-top missive was easier said than done.
The letters were addressed to the employees individually at the office’s 3 South Penn Square address. Once higher-ups inside the office got wind of this letter-bombing, plainclothes investigators and managers were dispatched to confiscate the unopened letters from employees’ mailboxes and directly from employees who had already retrieved them.
“It was crazy,” recalls one staff member of the tension in the office that day, suggesting that the letter had brought more chaos to an office that has already had its fair share of it. “People were talking about it all week. Although some people were afraid to admit that they had even seen it.”
But not all of the letters were confiscated.
A source who works in the D.A.’s office managed to get one of the letters out of the building and provided a copy to me for publication, under the condition that this source remain anonymous. I shared the content of the letter with another D.A. source, who had seen the original letter before it was confiscated; this second source confirms that this is the same letter.
I also sent the letter to Tasha Jamerson, Williams’s spokesperson, asking for comment on how the letter was handled within the office and the substance of its contents. Her entire reply: “These statements are untrue.”
The magazine’s lawyers won’t let me show you the entire letter, because some of the content is simply too hot to handle. Here’s what I can share, typos and all. (By way of explanation: the Ed McCann referred to in the letter is the first deputy assistant district attorney; the “McGettigan/Grady departures” refers to two high-level employees who left the office after messy disputes with their boss, the D.A.; and “Rufus” is the district attorney’s actual first name.)
The letter begins:
Dear DA’s Office Employee:
In August of 1945, the United States ended the war in the Pacific by dropping 2 atomic bombs on the Empire of Japan; the “Little Boy” was dropped on August 6th (Hiroshima) and the “Fat Man” on August 9th (Nagasaki), bringing Japan to its knees and the war to a close.
Over the past 3 years, the DA’s Office has been decimated by its own version of the fat man (Rufus Willams) and the little boy (Ed “Mr. Peabody” McCann). In the coming months, it is likely multiple investigations will reveal much of the sordid behavior that has gone on under this duo. The October Philly Magazine article was the tip of the iceberg, as all of you know.
To mention just a few, like the true story of the McGettigan/Grady departures (firings); or the source of money for many of the DA’s questionable hires, while he cries poor mouth to City Council; or allegedly using public money as if it was his own, much information will come to light. We hope all of you will have a chair when the music stops, so be forthright about what is going on under this administration. Speak to responsible media (“stop snitching” is for criminals, not suitable as an office press policy) and investigators in a candid manner.
No one knows better than all of you what the atmosphere has become under Rufus & Eddie. We thank those of you who have already cooperated (not necessarily those who received this mailing) and look forward to restoring your faith in the office.
The letter then goes on to attach a list of salaries of hundreds of the office’s employees, including the infamous “party planner” who makes more than $75,000. The author of the screed makes note of “political hires” as well as a large raise received by a “campaign contributor.”
He or she also makes some sexist personal attacks, suggesting that one female employee is paid “by the baby” and that one highly paid female employee “does need extra money for those shopping sprees at Macy’s.” There is also language like “special female pals of Rufus,” referring by name to two women in the office.
The letter concludes:
While some have speculated that Rufus has the money handling skills of Vince Fumo, the personal judgment of former NY Representative Anthony Weiner, and the same future as Kwame Kilpatrick (former Detroit mayor), only time will tell, but now the proper eyes are focused on the many problems of the administration.
So how does the Rufus/Ed regime end???? Imagine The Who’s “Eminence Front” being played while watching the ending of The Shawshank Redemption (when the warden and head guard realize the gig is up); when all the schemes and ill behavior come to light. Maybe Seth can be the mayor of his cell block?
Be proud of the work you do and keep your head up. The time for the precious few being taken care of is drawing to a close. The end of this fiasco is near.
Quite a letter. And maybe the DA’s spokesperson, Tasha Jamerson, is partially correct: Maybe some of the allegations are false. But it is hard to ignore the sense that the top law-and-order official in the city is presiding over an office in utter chaos.
Update [6/28 12:45 p.m.]: Yet another anonymous anti-Seth Williams letter has surfaced.