Report: FBI Eyeing Rent for DA Williams’ Ex-Wife

A campaign contributor rented a Drexel Hill property to Williams' ex-wife at a below market rate, according to the Inquirer.

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

The Inquirer is reporting that a past campaign contributor to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams rented Williams’ ex-wife a house at a below market rate three years ago.

Robert Herdelin, the property owner, told the paper that he agreed to rent a Drexel Hill home to Sonita Williams for $1,000 per month. He told the paper he believes the property could have brought in $2,500 per month.

In an interview with the paper, Herdelin said Williams asked him to do so “as a favor” and that’s he’s gained nothing from the rental agreement, which, according to the article, has drawn attention from the FBI.

Herdelin, who also owns suburban and Shore properties, told the Inquirer that agents visited him in October and again this year. After the FBI starting asking him questions, Herdelin said he raised the rent to $2,500 and Sonita Williams moved out, according to the report.

At question could be whether such a situation, if true, qualifies as a “gift” under the Philadelphia Code, meaning a “payment, subscription, advance, forbearance, rendering or deposit of money, services or anything of value, unless consideration of equal or greater value is received.”

City officials are required to report gifts if they are not a “political contribution otherwise reported as required by law,” according to the Code.

Williams did not indicate to the city that he had received gifts in 2012, 2013 or 2014, according to the report.

Williams and a spokesperson for the DA’s Office declined to comment for the story, as did Williams’ political action committee, to which Herdelin gave $13,093 from 2009 to 2012, and Sonita Williams. Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for Williams, declined to comment to Philadelphia magazine.

Patty Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, told the Inquirer that she “could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.”

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