Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

Statements on Commissioner Ambrose Leaving DHS

June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014: “This is truly a day of mixed emotions for me,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “On one hand I am extremely happy for Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose as she embarks on this new professional chapter in her life, but on the other hand I am sad for our city. Her departure will be a tremendous loss for Philadelphia, and that is a fact that can’t be understated. Anne Marie truly cares about the people she was in charge of protecting, our most vulnerable residents-our children. I know she will bring that same compassion and energy to the Casey Family Programs, and while I will no longer be meeting with her professionally I will continue to have the pleasure of seeing her often because she is one of my neighbors.”

“Anne Marie Ambrose was not only a great partner to this office, she was and will continue to be a great friend,” said First Assistant Edward McCann. “She is personally and professionally committed to trying to ensure that all the children in Philadelphia could grow up in healthy and safe environments. Her job is probably one of the hardest in the city and she did it with determination, passion, professionalism and most importantly with her entire heart and soul invested in it. The Casey Family Programs’ gain is Philadelphia’s loss, and Commissioner Ambrose will truly be missed.”

Philadelphia Man Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Young Son

June 26, 2014

June 25, 2014: Today, 57 year old Kevin Willock was convicted by a jury of his peers of Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse with a Child, Indecent Assault of a Child, Unlawful Contact with a Minor, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Corrupting the Morals of a Minor. Willock repeatedly sexually assaulted his biological son in 2004 when the boy was just five years old. The little boy had to move in with Willock after the child’s mother was murdered, the boy was just four years old at the time. Willock had not previously been in the child’s life because Willock was in and out of prison up to that point.

Willock lived alone with the child who testified that he would repeatedly wake up to find Willock sexually assaulting him. The assaults stopped when the boy turned six because Willock married another woman who moved in with them. Shortly thereafter both the defendant and his new wife were arrested and incarcerated for unrelated crimes. The boy did not have a stable residence until he turned nine. The victim disclosed the abuse to a therapist at age 11, and then gave a statement to police at the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance. The victim, now 16 years old, testified to the abuse earlier this week in court.

“Words cannot express the courage this young man displayed,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “To have your mother brutally taken away at such a young age, and then to have your own father take away your innocence is incomprehensible. I commend this heroic young man, and ADA Jessalyn Gillum who made sure that justice prevailed in this case.”

“This young man displayed great courage in testifying about the devastating abuse his own father inflicted on him,” said ADA Gillum. “He is now in a stable home which has helped him begin to recovery and speak about these crimes.”

Willock faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five to ten years incarceration and the Commonwealth will seek to prove that this offense is his 3rd strike, having been previously convicted of several first-degree felony robberies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, subjecting him to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25–50 years incarceration. He will be sentenced on September 8, 2014, by the Honorable Judge Barbara McDermott and will be a lifetime registrant under Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law.

Police Officer Charged With Assault

June 24, 2014

June 24, 2014: The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office charged 35 year old Tamika Gross with Endangering the Welfare of a Child (EWOC), Corruption of Minors, Simple Assault, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person (REAP) for her participation in a number of fights involving her teenage children. Tamika Gross is a Philadelphia Police Officer assigned to the 16th District.

On several occasions between January of 2012 and October of 2013, Tamika Gross accompanied, encouraged, and participated in altercations between her children and other minors. The first of these fights took place on January 25, 2012 when Gross walked with her 18 year old son to the 900 block of Marcella Street. Gross then demanded that her son and a 16 year old boy who lived on the block fight. Shortly after that fights broke out on the block between several groups of young men, and police were called to respond to the scene. Numerous calls were made to 9-1-1 about the fight, and one radio call reported that there was a riot on the street and that an “officer needed assistance,” it was determined that the officer in need of assistance was P/O Tamika Gross.

In March of 2012, Tamika Gross was present for another fight involving one of her children. On March 16, 2012, a thirteen year old girl and her 17 year old sister were walking near Loretto Avenue and Sanger Street when a car driven by P/O Gross pulled up and Gross’ daughter jumped out. Her daughter then began punching both girls in the face, while Gross encouraged her daughter to fight. According to the victims, Gross kept screaming during the fight that she was an off duty police officer and that no one would get arrested.

P/O Gross is accused of encouraging and participating in another fight. On October 23, 2013, Gross and her daughter approached a 14 year old girl near Lincoln High School. Gross’ daughter and the girl had previously engaged in a verbal dispute at school. Gross’ daughter challenged the girl to fight, with Gross encouraging the juveniles to fight. P/O Gross was captured on cellphone video standing in the crowd of people watching the girls fight. The girl reported that Gross punched her twice in the eye before the fight ended.

Tamika Gross turned herself in to Internal Affairs this morning, and she is currently being processed by police.

A Grand Jury will Investigate Allegations of Political Corruption by Philadelphia Lawmakers

June 18, 2014

June 18, 2014: Today, District Attorney Seth Williams took the unusual step of officially announcing that an Investigating Grand Jury will be looking into allegations that several Philadelphia legislators accepted gifts and money in exchange for political favors and votes.

“I have concluded that there is only one way to get to the bottom of this case,” stated District Attorney Seth Williams, “and that is to use the tool that has served for centuries to expose criminal behavior whether in the public or private sector – the Investigative Grand Jury.”

“The grand jury process has withstood the test of time because it works. I believe there are two factors in particular that have created that success,” continued the District Attorney.
“First, the grand jury brings together three independent players who must cooperate with each other. The district attorney exercises discretion to call for a grand jury, to present evidence to it, and to direct any prosecution that may arise from the process. The supervising judge closely monitors each aspect of the proceedings, making crucial legal decisions about the scope of the grand jury’s powers. And the grand jurors themselves hear and evaluate all the evidence, and make the ultimate recommendation about which, if any, charges to bring, and what, if any, facts to report to the public. Some like to say that any decent prosecutor can get a grand jury to do whatever he wants. Those people haven’t met many Philadelphia jurors. Or judges.”

“The second important factor in the grand jury process is secrecy. Not just “I promise I won’t tell.” But an explicit requirement of law, backed up by the power of imprisonment, that prohibits anyone from revealing anything outside of the grand jury process unless and until the supervising judge authorizes it. It’s that guarantee of secrecy that arms the grand jury with a unique ability to get to the truth. And it’s that guarantee of secrecy that protects grand jury subjects from whispers and rumors before an appropriate legal determination has been made.”

“Now normally, I would not even state publicly that a case has been submitted to the grand jury. But because of the unusually high profile of this case, I thought it was essential for the public to understand that I won’t allow it to just disappear, without accountability. There will be an appropriate legal process. From this point forward, however, that process will occur under the protection of grand jury secrecy law.”

“At that time, there will be a number of possible outcomes. The grand jurors may decide to issue a presentment recommending a criminal charge, or some combination of criminal charges, against one or more subjects of the investigation. They may also choose to issue a report to the public with an accounting of the evidence they have heard, and perhaps with recommendations for official action. Those decisions will become fully public at the appropriate time. And that will not be an unreasonably long time from now. While it’s impossible to make any promises about the length of this investigation, it will be handled promptly. We’re talking months, not years.”

“I realize that there may be other agencies, including the state legislature, with an interest in conducting inquiries into this matter. I am confident that they will cooperate with us by allowing the grand jury process to go forward without interference or competition.”

“The public and the accused deserve justice, Pennsylvanians and the accused deserve a fair, independent and impartial review of the evidence. Philadelphians and the accused also deserve due process, and I am going to give it to them.”

Statement on Kareem Alleyne Acquittal

June 18, 2014

June 14, 2014: Kareem Alleyne was arrested in 2012 and charged with vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter based on the physical evidence, witness statements, and expert analysis that was presented. The Accident Investigation Report and physical evidence at the scene established that the defendant had ample opportunity to avoid a virtually certain collision. As the driver of a motor vehicle, the defendant had criminal liability for his reckless failure to prevent the collision. As such, the District Attorney’s Office stands by the original decision to charge Mr. Alleyne. While the court chose to take the case from the jury and grant the defendant’s motion for acquittal, and while the evidence at trial may have unfolded differently, it is the purpose of a trial to provide a full, fair and public exploration of the evidence. We respect the result the criminal justice system has provided.

Murder Charges Nolle Prossed For 1995 Murder

June 18, 2014

June 18, 2014: Today, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office nolle prossed the murder charges against Eugene Gilyard and Lance Felder.

In light of new information, the police department in cooperation with the District Attorney’s Office conducted a follow up investigation into the 1995 murder of Thomas Keal. This investigation included examining evidence brought out at Gilyard and Felder’s PCRA hearings. The passage of so many years and inconsistencies between witnesses from the initial investigation and witnesses that came to light more recently, has compromised the evidence to the point that we cannot proceed against Eugene Gilyard and Lance Felder.

At the same time, the credibility of the written confession of Ricky Welborn that was put forth at the PCRA hearings last summer has also been called into question, as there is an abundance of evidence that Welborn, a prisoner already sentenced to life, was offered $10,000 in exchange for that statement. The end result is that the office cannot prosecute Gilyard or Felder, or anyone else at this time.

Special Education Teacher Charged With Having Sexual Intercourse With Student

June 9, 2014

June 4, 2014: The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged 30 year old Stephanie Amato with Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Statutory Sexual Assault, Unlawful Contact with a Minor, Interference with Custody of Children, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Corruption of a Minor, Indecent Assault, and Indecent Exposure.

Amato is an 8th grade Special Education teacher at Ethan Allen School in the Northeast. Ms. Amato engaged in “consensual” sex with one of her 14 year old male students at her home and in her car on multiple occasions between March and April of this year. She turned herself into SVU Detectives today and is currently being processed by police.

Philadelphia Man Forges Custody Papers

June 9, 2014

June 4, 2014: The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged 42 year old Shawn Pickett with Forgery, Attempted Theft by Deception, Welfare Fraud, Tampering with Public Records/Information, False Statements and Tampering with Records/Identification for tampering with a court ordered custody agreement.

Pickett, of the 2800 block of W. Oxford Street, is accused of forging the custody agreement of his young teenage son. Pickett also tried to use the fraudulent custody agreement to change the Social Security and Department of Welfare benefits of his son, making Pickett the beneficiary of the benefits.

On December 11, 2013, the District Attorney’s Office was contacted by the Philadelphia Family Court after a forged document was discovered. This document, a purported order, appeared to have been signed by Judge Tama Myers Clark on September 2, 2013 and gave primary custody to Shawn Pickett of his 14 year old boy, and partial custody of the teen to his mother Tabitha Allen. After reviewing a copy of the order dated September 2, 2013, Judge Myers Clark confirmed that she did not sign this document nor did she give anyone permission or authorization to sign her name on her behalf. Tabitha Allen also confirmed that she did not sign this document nor did she give anyone permission or authorization to sign her name on her behalf.

Ms. Allen began to suspect something was wrong prior to December 11, 2013 when she went to the social security office to obtain printouts of her income. While at the social security office, she was informed by the front desk clerk that Ms. Allen was no longer listed as the payee for her son’s social security check due to a change in her son’s custody status. Allen immediately suspected foul play, because the custody status had not changed. Additionally, she was also contacted by the Department of Public Welfare and informed that her son’s benefits were switched to Shawn Pickett after it received an order giving him full custody. The Department of Welfare gave Ms. Allen a copy of the fraudulent order dated September 2, 2013, which she gave to the Philadelphia Family court.

Shawn Pickett was arrested on Tuesday night, June 3, 2013. He is currently being processed by police.

Dianah Gregory Enters Guilty Plea for 2013 Election Day Crime

May 29, 2014

On May 27, 2014: Today, the Honorable Michael Erdos sentenced 65 year old Dianah Gregory to 15 months of probation for the Election Code Violation of Tampering with a Voting Machine charge. She was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, and perform 15 hours of community service.

On election day November 5, 2013, Gregory hand-wrote her name as a write in candidate for Committeemen on both voting machines at the polling place for the 28th Ward 1st Division located at 3100 Lehigh Ave. Gregory’s actions caused a delay in voting for over an hour. Voting could not resume until Officials from the County Board of Elections were able to clean the voting machines.

After a lengthy investigation by the District Attorney’s Special Investigations Unit Dianah Gregory was arrested on November 20, 2014. She entered on open guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge of Tampering with a Voting Machine on May 27, 2014. ADA Peter Berson successfully prosecuted this c

Project “GO”

May 29, 2014

May 28, 2014: District Attorney Seth Williams announced today the Celebration of Attendance event to honor students for improved school attendance. The students recognized all attend schools participating in the District Attorney’s truancy prevention initiative, Project “GO.”

Project “GO” (as in “go” to school) is an early intervention and prevention program developed by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to hold parents and excessively truant elementary and middle school students accountable for truancy. The law requires all children to attend school every day until the age of 17 years. The participating schools notify the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office when a student has exceeded the number of unexcused absences agreed to as the limit for that school. Upon receiving this notice, a letter is sent from the District Attorney’s Office to the parents/guardians advising them of their responsibilities under Pennsylvania law. The parents and the children are required to attend a group meeting with the Assistant District Attorney, school staff, city agencies and community-based organizations. Parents are advised that continued attendance problems will not be tolerated and could result in court action against the parent and/or the child. At the same time, referrals are provided for parenting classes, counseling and other needed services.

If the letter and group meeting are not successful in improving attendance, the student and parent are invited to an individual meetingwith the Assistant District Attorney and school staff to discuss the child’s attendance problems. This meeting focuses on:

• Attendance problems
• Family issues/concerns
• School related issues/concerns
• The Assistant District Attorney reminds the parents of the possible legal consequences if the child does not attend school each and every day
• Both parents and children may be referred to appropriate agencies for necessary services
• Parents may also be required to sign a contract outlining the responsibilities of both the parent and child

If the individual meeting is not successful, the student and parent are referred to a final individual meeting with the Assistant District Attorney, school staff and other appropriate representatives. The message is reiterated for the final time.
Failure to improve thereafter will result in prosecution of the parent for Corruption of a Minor, 18 Pa.C.S. §6301(a)(2), a violation of the Public School Code, 24 P.S. §13-1333, and/or, in a particularly egregious case, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, 18 Pa.C.S. §4304. Similarly, a child 13 or older could be prosecuted for a violation of the Public School code (24 P.S. §13-1300, et seq); a child under 13 would be referred to the Department of Human Services as a dependent child.

“There is no denying the relationship between truancy, dropping out of school and the subsequent criminal involvement that happens as a result of dropping of out school,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I, therefore, believe in my heart of hearts that these truancy reduction efforts will ultimately decrease crime throughout the city.”

“Early intervention is key,” continued the District Attorney. “ To be successful, we must address school attendance problems as early as possible — before the child’s behavior is ingrained and while the parent still exercises some control. Only if all of the above steps fail, will cases be filed against the parent and/or the child. The goal of “GO” is to get children back in school. Court action and criminal sanctions, though available, are the least desirable alternative. As a testament to the effectiveness of early involvement by a prosecutor, we have not yet had to employ the ultimate sanction and no parent has been prosecuted since the inception of Project GO.”

The supervising prosecutor for Project “GO” is Dr. Rachel Pereira. She can be reached at 215-686-9909 or by email at rachel.pereira@phila.gov.

Gifts for the honorees were provided by Target and refreshments were provided by Brown’s Shoprite.

List of Schools with Nominations for Students Who Have Improved Attendance

Alliance for Progress Charter School
Belmont Charter School
Hardy Williams High Mastery Charter School
John B. Stetson Charter School
Mastery Charter School—Clymer
Mastery Charter School—Grover Cleveland
Mastery Charter School—Mann
Mastery Charter School—Smedley Elementary
Mastery Charter School—Thomas
Olney Charter School
Universal Audenreid Charter High School
Universal Bluford Charter School
Universal Creighton Charter School
Universal Vare Charter School
University Alcorn Elementary Charter School


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