R_Seth_Williams

Photo by Spark49 // CC BY-SA 4.0

In the latest blow to former Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams' once-glittering career, the city's top prosecutor will be spending the next five years behind bars. 

Williams, who resigned from his post in June after pleading guilty to charges of bribery, extortion and fraud, was given the maximum prison sentence a stern dressing-down by U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond.

"I have a guilty plea from the highest law enforcement officer in the city,” Diamond said, in an exchange reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer. “He betrayed his office and he sold his office. I am appalled by the evidence that I have heard.”

In addition to the five-year sentence, Williams was ordered to pay almost $100,000 in criminal forfeiture and restitution. He was convicted on all but one of 29 charges of honest services fraud, bribery and fraud, according to the Inquirer. 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also disbarred Williams.

During a trial that ended abruptly after Williams accepted a plea deal, two men testified that they had sponsored an all-expenses-paid trip to the Dominican Republic and other vacation destinations, in hopes that Williams would protect their business interests from legal trouble. 

In January, Williams agreed to pay a $62,000 fine to the city's Ethics Board for disclosing close to $200,000 in gifts late. This fine was the largest ever assessed by the board in its 11-year history, according to the Inquirer. 

Williams had also been accused of using his campaign funds for personal expenses, fraudulently using city vehicles and taking money meant to pay for his mother’s nursing home care. 

"I’m just very sorry for all of this, your honor,” Williams said, as quoted in the Inquirer.

Williams became Philadelphia's first black district attorney in 2009 after spending several years as an assistant prosecutor and inspector general. 

He was responsible for launching an “ethnic intimidation” task force after a series of racially driven hate crimes in 2016. 

Williams has been living in a cell in the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center’s Special Housing Unit due to his previous role in law enforcement. As a nonviolent offender, it is likely that he may be sent to a federal prison with more relaxed security measures. 

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