PHILADELPHIA (March 10, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today charged Pennsylvania State Representatives Louise Williams Bishop and Michelle Brownlee and former Pennsylvania State Representative Harold James with Criminal Conspiracy, Bribery in Official and Political Matters, Conflict of Interest, and Failure to Make Required Disclosures in Statement of Financial Interests for accepting money in exchange for promised political actions.
“The citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the people of Philadelphia deserve nothing but honest and hardworking representation. They don’t deserve elected officials who think that it is ok to sell their office,” said District Attorney Williams. “There are no free passes when it comes to corruption and the elected officials who break the law, and so I’d also like to thank the grand jury, the members of the District Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Task Force and the Pennsylvania State Police for their hard work and dedication.”
Recordings that were made by a confidential informant (CI) showed Bishop accepting three cash payments totaling $1,500, Brownlee accepting one cash payment of $2,000, and James accepting one payment totaling $750.
Brownlee and James testified before the investigating grand jury and admitted to what they had done. Bishop appeared before the grand jury after being subpoenaed but declined to answer questions about her relationship with the CI and the allegations contained in the attached presentment.
This presentment, which is part of an undercover investigation spearheaded by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (OAG) between 2010 and 2012, is the third issued by the grand jury. It previously recommended charges against Thomasine Tynes, the former President Judge of the Philadelphia Traffic Court and Pennsylvania State Representatives Ronald Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown.
Representatives Bishop and Brownlee and former Representative James will be turning themselves in to the Pennsylvania State Police this morning. A complete copy of the grand jury’s third presentment is attached.