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House Bill 1091

October 7, 2014

On Monday, October 6, 2014, The House of Representatives took a stand against the escalating gun violence in the city of Philadelphia and passed House Bill 1091. The legislation would increase the sentence for illegally carrying of a firearm in Philadelphia under Title 18, Section 6108 to a third degree felony and add a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two years of total confinement; currently the offense is a misdemeanor.

“I thank the legislature for their important votes on House Bill 1091,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “House Bill 1091 will help us make the City of Philadelphia and its neighboring communities safer by providing additional tools in our fight against gun violence. It is the criminals who carry guns illegally who are responsible for the tragic losses of too many Philadelphians, like three year-old Tynirah Borum. In August I stood alongside Representative John Taylor, Senator Larry Farnese and District Attorneys from the counties surrounding Philadelphia just around the corner from where she was shot and killed. We spoke out about the need for better legislation that would take firearms out of the hands of criminals and make our streets safer. Just a day after that press conference, there was a shooting a few blocks away from that location, making the need for HB 1091 even clearer and more urgent.”

“I would like to thank State Representative Taylor for his great leadership in sponsoring this bill and being a champion for a safer Philadelphia,” continued DA Williams. “Senator Farnese has also provided extensive work and support with his companion bill in the Senate and we extend our gratitude to him is well. I would also like to acknowledge the District Attorneys from our surrounding counties—Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery and Chester—who stood beside us in support of this legislation.”


Philadelphia Postal Worker Charged with Stealing and Embezzling Over $28,000 From Post Office

October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014: The Philadelphia District Attorneys Office Special Investigations Unit has charged 36-year-old Felicia Townsend with Receiving Stolen Property, Theft, Unlawful use of a Computer, and Tampering with Public Records. Townsend, of the 400 block of N. Simpson Street, is charged with selling money orders at several United States Postal Service (USPS) locations, voiding the orders once the customer leaves, and then pocketing the money from the transactions. Townsend began working at the USPS as a temporary holiday employee in 1996, and she was hired as a fulltime employee in 2011.

In January of 2014, the USPS Office of the Inspector General received a complaint that two of its finance stations, the John Wanamaker Station on Market Street and the Land Title Station on S. Broad Street, had a number of money orders that were cashed but were never reported as sold or issued. Upon further investigation it was determined that the money orders were sold to postal customers but subsequently voided by Felicia Townsend. Townsend was even recorded on surveillance tapes making the transactions and then voiding the orders. The investigation revealed that Townsend stole $28,642.31 in fraudulently voided money orders from the USPS from October 19, 2013 through April 8, 2014.

Felicia Townsend was arrested on September 30, 2014, and she was scheduled for a status hearing today. ADA Brad Bender is specially assigned to this case.

Philadelphia DHS Worker Charged with Stealing Close to $18,000 in SEPTA Tokens

October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014: A joint investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Task Force and the Philadelphia Inspector General’s Office has led to the arrest of 30-year-old Shamira Hawkins-Worthey. Hawkins-Worthey, of the 3000 block of N. 9th Street, is now facing 1576 counts of Theft, Forgery and Tampering with Public Records charges. Hawkins-Worthey worked for the City of Philadelphia as a Department of Human Services (DHS) Social Worker Services Manager, and is charged with submitting fraudulent overtime expenses and stealing SEPTA fare tokens from the agency.

Shamira Hawkins-Worthey has been employed by the city since November 20, 2006, and her responsibilities included providing services to her DHS clients. One of the services required that she obtain SEPTA fare tokens for those clients. These tokens are provided to children, parents and family members who must commute to court hearings, medical appointments, visitation and other official events consistent with the Department’s child welfare mission. DHS purchases the tokens at full price from SEPTA, and protocol requires that social workers submit written requests citing the case number of their client, identifying the intended recipient of the tokens, detailing the reason for the request and the amount of tokens being requested.

In September of 2013, a DHS Administrative Supervisor noticed that Hawkins-Worthey had requested and received a total of 300 SEPTA tokens during a two day period–which was an unusually high request. Further investigation revealed that those requests were for cases that were inactive or closed.

The Inspector General’s Office then conducted an audit of SEPTA token requests made by Hawkins-Worthey, and it was discovered that for nine months beginning January in 2013 she submitted 640 requests and received 11,474 tokens totaling $17,784.20. Of those requests, 366 contained supervisor signatures that were confirmed as forgeries. Several forms contained signatures of supervisors who were absent or on leave, and many of the DHS cases that Hawkins-Worthey cited on the request forms were either closed, inactive or did not exist.

During this investigation, Hawkins-Worthey was reassigned to an administrative position within DHS and was instructed by one of her supervisors that she was not permitted to work overtime. Despite this prohibition however, Hawkins-Worthey submitted three Authorization for Overtime Slips. An investigation into these slips revealed that Hawkins-Worthey had forged her supervisors’ signatures on these requests and a review of Hawkins-Worthey’s ID Swipe card for those days revealed that she did not gain entry by using her card nor was she encountered by others who did work those days. A subsequent DHS audit of Hawkins-Worthey’s overtime slips revealed that she had requested overtime for 76 cases between April and October of 2013. Of the 76 cases, 20 cases were determined to have been closed and 8 cases did not exist at all in the database. The fraudulent overtime for that time period amounted to a total of $6,372.34.

Shamira Hawkins-Worthey’s theft and fraud cost the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services a total of $24,156.54.

“I have no words for the actions of this person,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “Instead of helping some of the most vulnerable people in our city, she chose to use her position with DHS to line her own pockets. It’s sad and very, very wrong. I commend Inspector General Kurland and her office for their excellent work on this case.”

“All City employees have an obligation to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. That obligation is even more sacred when funds were designated to help some of Philadelphia’s residents who are most in need,” said Inspector General Amy L. Kurland. “I would like to thank District Attorney Williams and the Philadelphia Police Department for their assistance in this case. It demonstrates the importance of the close partnerships the Office of the Inspector General has forged with law enforcement agencies, including the District Attorney’s Office. We continue to work side-by-side to safeguard Philadelphia residents’ trust in their government.”

The defendant turned herself into authorities this morning and she is currently being processed by Central Detectives.

Recent Arrests and Arraignments

October 6, 2014

October 3, 2014: The Philadelphia District Attorneys Office has charged
24-year-old Kenneth Allen with Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another Person (REAP), Criminal Mischief and Possession of an Instrument of a Crime (PIC). Allen, a Philadelphia Police Officer, is charged with assaulting a female Philadelphia police officer on four different occasions. Allen and the other officer were in a relationship at the time of the assaults. Allen was arraigned overnight, and his bail was set at $20,000. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on October 20, 2014 in courtroom 906.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged 45-year-old
Jemal Johnson with Kidnapping, Indecent Deviant Sexual Intercourse
(IDSI), Sexual Assault, Unlawful Restraint, Indecent Assault, Simple
Assault, False Imprisonment, REAP, and Impersonating a Law Enforcement Officer. Johnson, a Lt. with the Philadelphia Fire Department, is accused of forcing a woman to perform oral sex on him on October 1, 2014. Johnson told the victim he was a police officer and that he would arrest her if she did not perform the sex act on him. Johnson was arraigned overnight, and his bail was set at $100,000. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on October 16, 2014 in courtroom 906.

Philadelphia Firefighter Charged with Domestic Abuse Assault

October 3, 2014

October 2, 2014: The Philadelphia District Attorneys Office has charged 38 year old Michael Lawson and 28 year old Sada Greenlee with
Aggravated Assault, Conspiracy, Simple Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another Person (REAP), Possession of Instrument of a Crime (PIC), Terroristic Threats, Simple Assault and other related charges for assaulting Lawson’s ex-wife and her current boyfriend. Lawson’s ex-wife is currently eight months pregnant. The pair are charged for two assaults, the first occurred on September 15, 2014 and the second on September 30, 2014. Lawson and Greenlee were arraigned overnight, bail was set at $75,000 each, and their next court date is scheduled for October 20, 2014 in courtroom 906.

Three People Charged for Center City Attack

September 23, 2014

September 23, 2014: The District Attorney’s Office has approved arrest warrants in connection with the assault of a gay couple on the 1600 block of Chancellor Street in Philadelphia on September 11, 2014. The individuals to be charged are 24-year-old Philip Williams, 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan, and 24-year-old Katherine Knott. All three defendants are from Bucks County. Each will be charged with two (2) counts of Aggravated Assault, two (2) counts of Simple Assault, two (2) counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person (REAP), and one (1) count of Criminal Conspiracy. Once charged the defendants will be arrested by police.

“I would like to thank the police for their thorough investigation and the public for the outpouring of information and tips in this case,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “This vicious attack shocked the entire country. An assault on people because of their sexual orientation has no place in Philadelphia.”

Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Will Re-Try Gerald Gibson

September 19, 2014

September 19, 2014: Today, the Honorable Diana Anhalt declared a mistrial in the theft case against Gerald Gibson. Jurors were not able to reach a unanimous verdict on all charges against the former Philadelphia police officer. Those charges included Theft, Obstruction of the Administration of Law, and Receiving Stolen Property for a January 2013 incident that occurred while Gibson was on duty as a narcotics officer. On January 31, 2013, Gibson was recorded on video by Federal Agents taking currency from a staged vehicle.

“This is just a minor delay in seeking justice,” said ADA Douglas Rhoads. “The Commonwealth looks forward to re-trying this case as soon as possible.”

District Attorney Seth Williams Joins Prosecutors across the Country to Announce New Coalition to Curb Gun Violence

September 19, 2014

September 17, 2014:  In a groundbreaking effort to combat gun violence, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams joined prosecutors from across the United States to announce the formation of PROSECUTORS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE, (PAGV), an independent, non-partisan coalition organized to identify and promote prosecutorial and policy solutions to the national public health and safety crisis of gun violence.

“It is a pleasure and an honor to be working with this group of prosecutors who have been dealing with similar issues of gun violence in their communities,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “By collaborating, identifying best practices, and discussing research I am certain we will make a real difference in improving public safety not only here in Philadelphia, but also across the entire country.”

PAGV was formed and co-chaired by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The group will convene the first-ever prosecutorial summit on gun violence prevention in Atlanta on October 21st and 22nd, focusing on best prosecutorial practices, gang violence reduction, illegal weapons trafficking, the nexus between domestic violence and gun violence, the link between mental health issues and gun violence, and other initiatives.  PAGV will announce additional summit details shortly.

“For prosecutors, gun violence is not a partisan issue,” said District Attorney Vance.  “It’s a public health and safety crisis that claims lives and destabilizes communities in every jurisdiction in America.  By coming together to share intelligence and advocate for pragmatic, non-partisan solutions, law enforcement officials can achieve lasting progress on gun violence.”

“Together, prosecutors across our nation can make a major impact on the gun violence afflicting our communities,” said City Attorney Feuer.  “Our members will draw from our colleagues’ most effective strategies and join forces to advance policies that can save lives.  Prosecutors have expertise and credibility that are hard to dismiss.”

The growing coalition includes prosecutors from Atlanta, Boston, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, Queens, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle and Staten Island.

Social Security Employees Charged With Welfare Fraud Scheme

September 9, 2014

September 5, 2014:  Today, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office as a result of a joint investigation with the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General and the United States Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General arrested five (5) people for a complex welfare, childcare, and medical benefits scheme.  31-year-old Sakeenah Belle, 31-year-old Chanae Thomas, 30-year-old Felicia Fernandez, 38-year-old Abigail Millian aka Abigail Puscama, and 30-year-old Shonda Wayman have been charged with Welfare Fraud, Forgery, Theft and other related crimes.  Altogether the five defendants received over $76,000 in SNAP, Subsidized Child Care and Medical Assistant benefits.

Sakeenah Belle, Chanae Thomas and Felicia Fernandez were all employed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and are charged with under reporting their annual income in order to fraudulently qualify for food, child care and health benefits from the government.  Shonda Wayman and Abigail Millian were both employed at the Reading Rainbow Learning Center on North 3rd Street in Philadelphia, and they are charged with conspiring with Belle, Thomas and Fernandez in order to continue receiving those fraudulent benefits.

On March 6, 2012, the Social Security Administration (SSA) received a complaint alleging that SSA employee Sakeenah Belle was involved in the misuse of her computer and hard drive assigned to her by SSA.  Belle was accused of using her SSA computer to create fictitious Earnings and Leave Statements for herself, two other SSA employees, and two Philadelphia day care workers. It was alleged that the fictitious Earnings and Leave Statements created by Belle were being used to gain eligibility, or to remain eligible for Welfare Benefits, Medical Assistance Benefits and Subsidized Child Care Benefits.  SSA agents investigated the allegations and forwarded the information to the State Inspector General’s Office.  The Inspector General’s Office then referred the case the District Attorney’s Office.  Detectives from the DA’s Government Fraud Unit arrested the defendants this morning, and they are currently being processed by the Philadelphia Police Department.

 Total Benefits

  1. Based upon Sakeenah Belle’s submission of forged and altered Earnings and Leave Statements, her misstatements and concealments of material facts regarding her true and correct wages and access to Medical Assistance Benefits, it was determined that between March 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012 Sakeenah Bell fraudulently obtained $4,072.00 in SNAP Benefits and $2,805 in Subsidized Child Care (CCIS Benefits), a total of $6,877.00.  The Medical Assistance transcripts indicates for the period between March 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012 Sakeenah Belle obtained $32,219.00.
  2.  Based upon Chanae Thomas’ submission of forged and altered Earnings and Leave Statements, her misstatements and concealments of material facts to the Department of Public Welfare regarding her true and correct wages and her household composition, and family access to Medical Assistance Benefits from the SSA it was determined that between June 1, 2009 and October 20, 2012 Chanae Thomas fraudulently obtained $15,689.00 in Medical Assistance Benefits.
  3.  Based upon Felicia Fernandez’s submission of forged and altered Earnings and Leave Statements, her misstatements and concealment of Material Facts from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare regarding her true and correct wages, regarding the status of her family health benefits from her employer the United States Social Security Administration it was determined that between October 1, 2009 and October 31, 2012 Felicia Fernandez fraudulently obtained $950.00 in SNAP benefits.  A review of the Medical Assistance Transcripts indicates that between October 1, 2009 and October 31, 2012 Fernandez obtained $6,292.00 in Medical Assistance Benefits.
  4.  Based upon Shonda Wayman’s submission of forged and altered paystubs from Reading Rainbow Learning Center and her submission of two letters which contained false wage and employment information and her misstatements and concealments of material facts from the Department of Public Welfare it was determined that between January 17, 2012 and January 13, 20013 Shonda Wayman fraudulently obtained $2,675.00 in SNAP Benefits.
  5.  Based upon Abigail Millian aka Abigail Puscama submission of forged and alter paystubs from Reading Rainbow Learning Center and her concealment of material facts and false statements from the Department of Public Welfare it was determined that between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2012 Abigail Millian aka Abigail Puscama fraudulently obtained $4,073.00 in SNAP Benefits. 


55 Year Old Woman Charged with Insurance Fraud

August 15, 2014

August 11, 2014:  Philadelphia Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU) detectives began to investigate 55 year old Annette Shirley White after receiving a fraud referral from Met Life Insurance Company. On March 3, 2011, White applied for a homeowner’s policy with Met Life Insurance Company after her previous policy with Liberty Mutual was cancelled due to non-payment. During the application process, representatives from Met Life inquired whether White had ever had a policy cancelled due to non-payment or if she had filed any claims under her former policy during the last five years. White denied both questions; however, the investigation later revealed that White had not answered truthfully during her policy application.

The day prior to White’s Met Life Insurance Company policy inception, the City of Philadelphia Department of Licensures and Inspections received a complaint that stated that the rear wall of White’s property was collapsing and that cement blocks were falling to the ground.  Two days later, the Department of Licensures and Inspections issued a safety violation to White after a representative deemed the wall unsafe. On March 7, 2011, White filed a claim with Met Life Insurance Company alleging that the same wall had collapsed following a particularly heavy rainstorm. Met Life then hired an engineer who concluded that the wall had collapsed due to structural deterioration resulting from poor maintenance rather than because of a storm.

Based on the investigation, detectives concluded that White not only misrepresented herself during her policy application, but that she also filed a fraudulent claim in which she indicated that her wall had collapsed due to a storm rather than because of ongoing neglect. White was arrested on August 11, 2014 for Insurance Fraud (F-3), Insurance Fraud (M-2), Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, and Attempted Theft by Deception. She is next scheduled to appear in Philadelphia Municipal Court for a status listing on August 18, 2014.

This case is specially assigned to Detective David Fisher and ADA Vicki Markovitz of the Insurance Fraud Unit.