Seth Williams Hit With Largest Ethics Fine in City History

Philadelphia’s district attorney has agreed to pay $62,000 in penalties for unreported and prohibited gifts.

Seth Williams / judgment against Seth

District Attorney Seth Williams will pay $62,000 in penalties after agreeing to a settlement with Philadelphia’s Ethics Board. The board announced the settlement in a release earlier today.

The fine is the largest in the 10-year history of Philadelphia’s Ethics Board. Per the settlement agreement, Williams admitted his failure to disclose five sources of income and 89 gifts on the City Statements of Financial Interests he filed between 2010 and 2015. An amended statement Williams filed last August did not disclose 10 additional gifts.

Just under $3,000 in gifts were officially “prohibited.” The City Ethics Code prohibits officials from accepting monetary gifts or non-monetary gifts worth $100 or more “from a person who (1) is seeking official action from that officer or (2) has a financial interest at the time, or in close proximity to the time, the gift is received that the officer is able to substantially affect through official action.”

The board said Williams received several gifts from people he was able to “affect through official action.” He got $750 in Visa gift cards and $690 in Phillies and 76ers tickets from Scott DiClaudio, a criminal defense attorney. He received $200 each from two subordinates in the district attorney’s office. He received $1,000 in lodging from Richard Hoy, another criminal defense attorney. Both DiClaudio and Hoy were handling cases the D.A.’s office was prosecuting.

“Among the gifts District Attorney Williams failed to disclose in the Original Statements were 20 gifts from individuals who had a financial interest that the District Attorney was able to substantially affect through official action,” the Ethics Board wrote in its finding. “These individuals included criminal defense attorneys who were handling cases prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, as well as subordinate employees and contractors of the District Attorney’s Office.”

Williams cooperated with the Ethics Board’s investigation. In addition to the $62,000 fine, Williams will give $2,840 to the city — the value of the prohibited gifts he accepted. He has to pay $2,840 by April 30th, $2,500 more by December 31, 2017 and at least $10,000 per subsequent year until the full amount is paid.