Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND COMMUNITY LEADERS PRAISE DECISION TO NAME TARIQ EL-SHABAZZ AS DEPUTY OF INVESTIGATIONS AND NEXT FIRST ASSISTANT

August 11, 2016

Announcement ensures smooth transition and community support

PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 11, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today, surrounded by city officials and community leaders, named Tariq El-Shabazz to be the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s (DAO) next Deputy for Investigations and next First Assistant District Attorney when the current First Assistant District Attorney George D. Mosee, Jr. retires in December 2016. El-Shabazz will begin as Deputy on September 6, 2016.

Williams’ announcement will fill a current vacancy as the Deputy of Investigations and allow El-Shabazz to gain more familiarity with the Investigations Division and the role of the First Assistant, ensuring continuity with the office’s current First Assistant District Attorney George D. Mosee, Jr. El-Shabazz has decades of award-winning legal experience both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney in addition to being an outspoken voice for justice, fair policing, just prosecutions and open communications with the public.

“It means so much to have these distinguished civic, community and religious leaders join us for today’s announcement. Tariq El-Shabazz was a powerhouse prosecutor years ago and is currently an advocate for a strong connection and two-way communication between our neighborhoods and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “He will make a great Deputy and, when the time comes, will make an outstanding First Assistant.”

Williams was joined at the announcement by: Richard Ross, Philadelphia Police Commissioner; Curtis Jones, Philadelphia Councilman, 4th District; Jewell Williams, Philadelphia Sherriff; Alyn Waller, Senior Pastor of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church; Cody Anderson, Community Activist; Saddiq Abdul-Jabbar, Philadelphia Human Rights Commission; Qasim Rashad, General Council, United Muslim Masjid; and Darryl Schuler, Community Organizer; Rev. Dr.

The Investigations Division currently houses the Philadelphia District Attorney’s (DAO) Office’s Special Investigations, Insurance Fraud, Economic and Cyber Crime, Government Fraud and the Dangerous Drug Offender Units.

“Thank you Mr. District Attorney for this opportunity, it is nothing short of an honor to join your team and to continue the good work that you and the Investigations Division are doing,” said El-Shabazz. “The work that we will do for the citizens of this great City will, as you have often said, continue to be done with integrity, justice and transparency with the hope that we will keep strengthening the all-important relationship between the community and the District Attorney’s Office.”

Earlier this year Philadelphia Council President Darrell Clarke appointed Mr. El-Shabazz, along with local community and political leaders, to a special commission to study ways to reform Philadelphia’s criminal justice system. El-Shabazz was the Managing and Founding Partner of El-Shabazz + Harris, LLC. and has more than 28-years of experience with civil and criminal litigation in Federal and State Court. He has tried over 1,000 jury trials and in 2005 was selected as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer.

Tariq has also built a reputation as a legal expert, appearing on dozens of local and national television and radio shows. As a community leader, he frequently participates in legal forums, many on the impact of the criminal justice system on Philadelphia’s African-American community. He also mentors young African-American men through community-based boxing and football programs.

Before going into private practice, El-Shabazz was an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) in the DAO for five years. While in the office he received the Prosecutorial Merit Award. He is a graduate of Hofstra University and the University of Baltimore Law Center, and will reside in the Mt. Airy section of the City.

“No words can express my admiration and thanks for the good work George Mosee has done for this office and me personally. His skill and heart are unmatched, and when he retires at the end of the year he will be sorely missed by all 600 employees including our attorneys and critical staff,” added Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “By making today’s announcement before George retires, I can make sure his vision and diplomacy continues after his retirement and there is a seamless transition to his successor.”

George Mosee was appointed as the office’s First Assistant District Attorney in November of 2015. From 2002 to 2015, Mosee was the Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Juvenile Division of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. The Juvenile Division includes the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program, Juvenile Prosecution Unit, Habitual Offender Unit, Child Support Unit and Youth Aid Panels. Mosee joined the office in 1988 and served in various units including Motions, Major Trials, Federal Alternatives to State Trials as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, Asset Forfeiture as Chief, and Chief of the Dangerous Drug Offender Unit. From 1995 to 2002, Mr. Mosee was the Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Narcotics Division.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARGES 32 INDIVIDUALS AND 3 CORPORATIONS IN MASSIVE AUTO THEFT AND INSURANCE FRAUD RING

August 10, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 10, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that after a review by an Investigating Grand Jury, he is charging 32 people and three corporations for participating in an auto theft ring that stole, replated, relisted and resold 45 vehicles. A list of the defendants, corporations and their charges is attached.

“Faked inspections, replaced vehicle identification numbers and more than one hundred fraudulent insurance cards made it possible for this criminal organization to steal and resell 45 cars. This scheme cost local rental-car companies more than $500,000 and more than $60,000 in fraudulent insurance claims were paid out,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “This was a methodical, time consuming investigation, so I’d like to thank the men and women of the Investigating Grand Jury, the Major Crimes Auto Squad at the Philadelphia Police Department, state police and agents at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and my Insurance Fraud Unit for working so hard to bring these 32 defendants to justice.”

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s (DAO) investigation found that these 32 defendants resold 45 replated vehicles that were disguised with repurposed vehicle identification numbers (VINs) from salvaged vehicles. All but eight of the stolen vehicles were owned by Philadelphia area Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, National, Avis, Budget and Dollar/Thrifty car rental branches. The remainder came from owners who fraudulently reported their vehicles stolen to collect insurance money. After being replated and relisted, the stolen vehicles were often sold to unsuspecting buyers.

“Insurance fraud impacts all of us. The Philadelphia Police Auto Squad in conjunction with our state and local partners, have done an excellent job at identifying these crimes. I am very proud of the collaboration and how it has dramatically reduced auto theft and fraud related crimes,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

“The sellers of these stolen cars paid anywhere from $500 to $2000 for the salvaged VINs and then turned around and sold the cars from anywhere between $5,000 to $20,000; sometimes tripling their investment,” added Williams.

The unlawful enterprise centered on a business known as Cheap Auto, which was operated by Jihad Miller and Preston Thomas, both of whom were registered buyers at Copart, which is an online auction distributor of salvaged vehicles. The pair would purchase salvaged vehicles for the sole purpose of taking their VIN plates and illegally replacing them with the stolen cars’ VIN plate. Jihad and Preston would then sell the replated vehicles themselves or in conjunction with other sellers: Tyrell Butler, Melvin Hicks, Frederick Miller and Keith Mills.

The defendants who conspired with the organization by renting cars for the purpose of stealing or by giving up their own cars up to make fraudulent insurance claims were: Shawntia Barnes, James Harris, Jeanine Herring, Shaderah McFarland, Larnessha Richmond, Jamilah Seward, Patrice Thomas, Karriem Upshur, Brandon Wesley, Marcel Chase White, Jay Johnson, Lisa Layne and Nasir Sadat Robertson.

The fraudulent insurance claims were paid by Allstate, Nationwide, Geico, Capitol Insurance and Infinity. The DAO also found that the group created more than 100 fake insurance cards. Some of the people who used them were: Tyrell Butler, Shintay Davis, Clayton Ferris, Brittney Glass, Rekia Glass, Melvin Hicks, Jay Johnson, Jihad Miller, Manez Ricketts, Michelle Sallas-Mensah, Nakia Simpson, Naeema Thomas, Patrice Thomas, Preston Thomas, Shawynna Tucker, Eric Washington and Karriem Upshur.

In order to sell the vehicles, the conspirators needed to create new titles and registrations. A reconstructed title can only be obtained after a car is inspected by an enhanced vehicle inspector. So, the group enlisted enhanced inspectors to overlook the fact that the illegally replated vehicles were brand new cars, not in need of an enhanced inspection. The enhanced inspectors also falsely certified that various repairs were completed and parts were replaced, when in fact no such repairs were ever made. Fake repair bills were used by the inspectors and a fraudulently obtained reconstructed title was issued. One such enhanced inspector was also a certified tag agent who notarized the necessary documentation, and sent it to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to facilitate the issuing of the reconstructed title.

The inspectors who were working in conjunction with the replaters and sellers to falsify the enhanced inspections were Derrick Hook through his business Top of the Line Auto. Alimamy Kamara and Abu Kamara were both enhanced inspectors through Kamara Automotive and Bimco Tag Agency.

All defendants have been arrested except for Karriem Upshur who fraudulently registered 17 vehicles with fake insurance policies. If anyone has information about the whereabouts of Karriem Upshur please call Detective Patrick Gleason at 215-686-8737 or Detective Jack Logan at 215-685-9137. He can also surrender to any local police district.

 

Charges Listed by Defendant

Jihad Miller

Corrupt organization (F1) 1 count

Theft by deception (F3) 45 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 45 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 45 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 45 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

Insurance fraud (F3) 5 counts

Forgery (F3) 5 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities 5 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 5 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

 

Preston Thomas

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 45 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 45 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 45 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 45 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

 

Tyrell Butler    

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 3 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 3 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 3 counts

False reports (M3)

Conspiracy (F1)

Insurance fraud (F3) 3 counts

Forgery (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 3 counts

 

Melvin Hicks  

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 5 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 5 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 5 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 5 counts

Conspiracy (F)

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

 

Frederick Miller          

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 5 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 5 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 5 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 5 counts

Conspiracy (F)

 

Keith Mills       

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 2 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 2 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 2 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

Receiving stolen property (F3) 2 counts

Chop shop (F2)

 

Derrick Hook 

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 16 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 16 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 16 counts

Forgery (F3) 16 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 16 counts

Conspiracy 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 903 (F1)

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 16 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 16 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 16 counts

Forgery (F3) 16 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 16 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Top of the Line Auto (Incorporated by Derrick Hook)

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 16 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 16 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 16 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 16 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Abu Kamara

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 6 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 6 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 6 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Alimamy Kamara

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 6 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 6 counts

Insurance fraud 4117 (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 6 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Kamara Automotive (Incorporated by Alimamy Kamara)

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 6 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 6 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 6 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Bimco Tag Agency (Incorporated by Alimamy Kamara)

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 6 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 6 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 6 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Marcel Chase White              

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

False reports (M2) 2 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Larnessha Richmond             

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Jamilah Seward         

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 4 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 4 counts

False reports (M2) 4 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Patrice Thomas         

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F)

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Shaderah McFarland                         

Corrupt organization  (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Karriem Upshur         

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

Insurance fraud (F3) 17 counts

Forgery (F3) 17 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 17 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 17 counts

 

Jeanine Herring         

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

False reports (M2) 2 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Brandon Wesley        

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Shawntia Barnes        

Theft by deception (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

 

James Harris 

Theft by deception (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Jay Johnson  

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3)

Insurance fraud (F3) 3 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F)

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Lisa Layne      

Theft by deception (F3)

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Nasir Sadat Robertson          

VUFA: Persons Not to Possess (F2)

Theft by deception (F3)

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Shintay Davis

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

 

Clayton Ferris

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Brittney Glass

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Rekia Glass

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 6 counts

 

Manez Ricketts

Insurance fraud (F3) 3 counts

Forgery (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 3 counts

 

Michelle Sallas-Mensah

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

 

Nakia Simpson

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

 

Naeema Thomas

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Shawynna Tucker 

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Eric Washington

Insurance fraud (F3) 3 counts

Forgery 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 3 counts

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S STATEMENT ON DECISION TO RETRY MONSIGNOR WILLIAM LYNN

August 2, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 2, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today issued the following statement on his decision to retry Monsignor William Lynn:

Today in court, we announced that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will retry Monsignor Lynn on the charge of Endangering the Welfare of Children. The appellate court recently ordered that the case be remanded for a new trial. There is substantial evidence, including testimony from the defendant himself, to establish his guilt. A retrial is the right thing to do in the pursuit of justice.

To the victims, their families and the citizens of our region; know that my Office takes the charges of institutional sexual abuse extremely seriously. I will continue to use every available legal option at my disposal to prosecute pedophile priests and those who shield them to the fullest extent of the law.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY FINDS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO ISSUE CHARGES AGAINST NELSON AGHOLOR FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT

July 18, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (July 18, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams released the following statement after thoroughly investigating an alleged sexual assault involving Nelson Agholor that took place at Cheerleader’s Gentlemen’s Club (2740 S. Front St.) on June 9, 2016:

The District Attorney’s Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit and detectives from the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit thoroughly investigated the allegations of sexual assault against Nelson Agholor. As a result of this joint investigation, our staff and the Police reached the conclusion that we lacked sufficient evidence to bring charges against Mr. Agholor, therefore no charges will be filed.

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Che Brown, former Drexel University Police Officer, arrested for theft

July 13, 2016

 

Internal Drexel investigation leads to termination and District Attorney’s Office charges

PHILADELPHIA (July 13, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams announced that Che Brown, a former Drexel University Police Officer, turned himself in today and was charged with Theft by Unlawful Taking (M1), Receiving Stolen Property (M1), Obstructing Administration of Law (M2) and Official Oppression (M2).

“What former Officer Che Brown did was wrong – stealing is stealing no matter if it is $5, $50 or $500 –and he will now have his day in court,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “My Office is grateful for the assistance and support of Drexel University and their police force, and, as I have said before, my Office will continue to review the evidence in each case and if warranted charge and prosecute anyone, no matter their position or influence, who breaks the law.”

Upon learning that Brown had allegedly tampered with evidence collected from a scene while responding to an incident, Drexel immediately began an internal investigation. The investigation confirmed Brown had violated police procedures, and, as a result, Brown was terminated on February 2, 2015. The case was then immediately turned over to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution per Drexel’s procedures.

On the morning of Wednesday, January 14, 2015, Drexel Police were dispatched to a residence hall on the University’s campus because a student was reported to possess marijuana. A search of the room with University staff found a bag of marijuana, cigarette rolling papers, knifes, bags of white powder and $500. The cash was stored in a pill box. The confiscated items were inventoried and given to Brown to enter into evidence. Later that day, Brown prepared the required incident report and property receipt, but did not record the two confiscated knives or the $500. He also never put them into evidence. Because the money had been a gift from his grandmother, the student knew the exact denominations of the missing currency. When the student went to retrieve his property, the money and the knives were missing. When asked by his supervisor about the missing items, Officer Brown said, “My bad, this is all on me.”

Brown’s supervisors searched the evidence room and found two knives and an ibuprofen box that contained $500. However, the denominations and their amounts did not match what was confiscated from the residence hall when the student was re-interviewed about the missing property.

An internal Drexel investigation, which included video evidence of the police evidence room, showed Brown depositing an item that appeared to be the ibuprofen box back into storage on January 22, 2015. After denying having touched the money or entering the evidence room since January 14, Brown was shown the video of him entering the room on January 22, 2015 and placing the box with the money in the drawer. In response, he stated that he forgot to put the money box into evidence and when asked about the denomination change he stated, “I have no idea.”

Brown, DOB 7/6/1979, resides in Upper Darby and was terminated by Drexel University because of the theft. He was hired by the University in January 2013. His next appearance in court has yet to be scheduled.

 

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY R. SETH WILLIAMS RELEASES STATEMENT ON JUDGE’S APPROVAL OF KATHRYN KNOTT’S PAROLE PETITION

July 12, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (July 12, 2016) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office today released the following statement on the Hon. Roxanne Covington’s decision to approve Kathryn Knott’s parole petition:

Today, Judge Covington granted Kathryn Knott’s parole petition. Ms. Knott completed five months of her five to ten month sentence of incarnation without any disciplinary infractions. The victims in this case were made aware of the petition and have no objection to it. I know that no amount of punishment or jail time can make what happened in Center City Philadelphia go away for the victims in this case, the LGBT community and the City of Philadelphia. But I also know that there is no legal proceeding that will bring fundamental equality and respect to all of our citizens; regardless of their race, gender, economic status or sexual orientation.

Was what Kathryn Knott and her fellow defendants did ugly and deplorable? Yes, it was. Do we need to keep fighting for equality and respect? Yes, we do. So, let’s use today’s proceedings as an opportunity to keep pushing forward and to make our neighborhoods and city a better place to live, love and work.

In February of 2016, Kathryn Knott was found guilty by a jury of her peers of two counts of Recklessly Endangering Anther Person, Simple Assault and Conspiracy for Simple Assault; all misdemeanor crimes. She was sentenced to serve five to ten months of incarceration followed by two years of reporting probation, she was also ordered to pay $2000 in fines for her role in the attack of a gay couple in Center City Philadelphia. Knott will, upon release, be on parole for the remainder of her ten month sentence and then begin two years of probation. In October of 2016, Knott’s co-defendants pled guilty for their role in the attack. Kevin Harrigan pled guilty to one charge of Simple Assault and one charge of Conspiracy. He was sentenced to three years of reporting probation and had to pay $314 in restitution. Phillip Williams pled guilty to one charge of Aggravated Assault and one charge of Conspiracy. He was sentenced to five years of reporting probation and had to pay $628 in restitution. Harrigan and Williams also agreed to perform 200 hours of community service at a LGBTQ organization/cause and are prohibited from going into Center City Philadelphia for the duration of their probation.

 

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY ISSUES STATEMENT ON JUVENILE RESENTENCING PROTOCOL IN COMPLIANCE WITH SCOTUS

June 3, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (June 3, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today released the following statement about the specialized protocol the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) is using to review approximately 300 juvenile life sentence cases as ordered by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in Miller vs. Alabama and Montgomery vs. Louisiana.

As the independently elected District Attorney of the City of Philadelphia, my job is to fairly apply the law. The Supreme Court of the United States issued their ruling earlier this year, and so today, I’m happy to share the protocol my team and I are using to review these cases.

Other states and counties across the U.S. are looking to Philadelphia to see what we are doing. Our plan meets the Supreme Court’s ruling and takes into consideration public safety, the defendant’s rights, and the services and supports they may need once released; all while respecting the victims and their families. As a policy matter, I recognize that the Court’s ruling emphasized the characteristics of youth and the need for individualized sentences for defendants, based on their age, with minimum and maximum sentences.

We began working on our plan on January 25th, the day Montgomery was decided, and we are going to use the new sentencing structure, applied retroactively as we take into account the age of the defendant at the time of the murder, to provide hope and a light at the end of the tunnel for these individuals who have been serving sentences, many decades-long, of life without the possibility of parole.

The first two cases are in court today, and so I’m thankful for the judges and defense attorneys who are working hard at this difficult task. Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel for his progressive approach to help prepare these individuals for release. And to all of our partners: The City of Philadelphia, First Judicial District, PA Board of Probation and Parole, PA Department of Corrections, and the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

Resentencing Protocol

The following step-by-step overview details the process that will be used by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) to review the sentences of the approximately 300 life sentence cases as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller vs. Alabama and Montgomery vs. Louisiana. The protocol was created by the DAO. The entire review process could take approximately three years.

  • Step 1: Beginning with the oldest cases, order the archived case file and verify the defendant’s eligibility for review by looking at his/her age at the time of the crime, role played in the case, sentence received, and if there are other concurrent or consecutive sentences. If the defendant does not meet the age requirements or has a concurrent or consecutive sentence he/she will not be eligible for resentencing.
  • Step 2: If the defendant is found eligible, their file will be saved in the DAO’s case management database.
  • Step 3: The DAO will order and review the defendant’s FBI Extract and PA Department of Corrections’ Prison Adjustment History. These documents will be used to verify that the defendant does not have a conviction in another state or in the Federal system. Additionally, the Office will review the defendant’s conduct in prison as provided by the Department of Corrections.
  • Step 4: The DAO will contact the victim’s family to explain the new law and the DAO’s review process. Family members will also be told about their right to attend court proceedings and to submit a victim impact statement.
  • Step 5: Examine all the relevant facts from all sources, including the victim’s family, and determine a fair and appropriate sentence.
  • Step 6: Contact the defendant’s counsel to negotiate a new sentence for the defendant. If there is an agreement, the case will be scheduled for a resentencing hearing before a homicide judge in the Court of Common Pleas. In court, the DAO will recommend a new sentence using the Commonwealth’s current sentencing statute (18 Pa.C.S.A. 1102) as its guide. If there is no negotiation, the case will be scheduled with the First Judicial District.
  • Step 7: After the court implements a new sentence, the PA Board of Probation and Parole will make any further determinations regarding parole and or release.

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY OPENS SEVEN NEW LOCATIONS FOR THE SAFE DISPOSAL OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

May 11, 2016

Drug return boxes are anonymous, secure and help prevent prescription drug and heroin abuse

PHILADELPHIA (May 11, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced the expansion of the Office’s prescription drug drop off pilot program into seven new Philadelphia Police Districts. The drop off locations allow anyone to safely and anonymously dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.

“Since January of this year, when we launched the pilot program, we have collected about 200 pounds of unwanted and unneeded prescription drugs,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “These secure drop off boxes are certainly a benefit the public and the environment. For example, they keep medications out of our water supply. But more importantly, since the abuse of prescription medications often leads to opiate and heroin abuse, these drop off boxes will save lives.”

The pilot program began with boxes in the 1st, 15th, 19th, 22nd, 25th and 35th police districts. Today, the program is being expanded into the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 14th and 26th police districts; eventually the pilot will be expanded into every Police District throughout the City.

“We appreciate the ongoing effort in creating options for residents to safely dispose of prescription drugs, to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. We will continue to work together to address this issue,” added Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

Philadelphia has the highest rate of drug overdoses in Pennsylvania, nearly 42 people per 100,000. There were more than 650 overdose deaths in Philadelphia in 2014. Of those, approximately 370 had prescription opioids in their system and more than half had heroin in their system.

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) will house the boxes and Philadelphia District Attorney (DAO) County Detectives will collect the medications and transport them to Covanta, which is located in Conshohocken, where they will be burned at no cost. The boxes were made available to the DAO through a grant from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

 

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S ELECTION FRAUD TASK FORCE AND COMMITTEE OF SEVENTY PREPARE FOR PRIMARY ELECTION

April 20, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (April 20, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that his Election Fraud Task Force is ready for April 26, Primary Election Day, and Philadelphian’s should call 215-686-9641, 9643 or 9644 if they experience any difficulty casting their ballot.

“It is always busy at the polls on presidential primary day so voters should make sure they check their registration and know the location of their polling place before they head out to vote,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “And, as always, if someone sees a violation or experiences any difficulty in casting their ballot they should reach out to the Election Fraud Task Force so we can protect each Philadelphian’s right to vote; and we do protect the City’s voting processes. For example, last year we charged nine people with various voting violations.”

The Task Force has more than 60 Assistant District Attorneys (ADA) and several dozen Detectives who are available to address any Election Day concerns. The Office also has two ADAs specially assigned to support the Committee of Seventy’s Election Day activities. Typically, the Task Force is asked to respond to allegations of illegal voting, candidate write in issues, refusal of election boards to recognize poll watcher certificates and illegal electioneering.

“We’re looking forward to a vibrant Election Day with high turnout,” said Committee of Seventy CEO David Thornburgh. “But the excitement and high stakes also mean that all of us must work that much harder to assure each voter the right to vote independently, privately and free from intimidation or harassment.”

Over the past twenty years, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Committee of Seventy have partnered to protect each Philadelphian’s vote and to monitor Election Day complaints.

“Seventy is pleased to see the District Attorney’s Office continue its Election Task Force, and we urge voters, poll workers and campaign volunteers to immediately report possible election law violations to the DA’s hotline. For questions about the election or voting procedures, voters can visit seventy.org or call Seventy at 1-855-SEVENTY,” added Thornburgh.

Seventy will also be deploying more than 400 high school student Election Ambassadors to polling places around the city to help answer voters’ questions, as well as encouraging all voters to fill out an online survey to share and document their experience at the polls.

In 2014, DA Williams created the Election Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute allegations of Election Day criminal activity. The Task Force continues to be part of the District Attorney’s Special Investigations Unit and is staffed by Assistant District Attorneys and Detectives. The DAO will also issue Election Day updates via its Twitter account while the polls are open.

Philadelphia DA and PHILADELPHIA COALITION FOR VICTIM ADVOCACY honor U.S. Sen. Toomey and dedicated PUBLIC Servants during National Crime Victim’s Rights Week

April 19, 2016

Annual luncheon celebrates awardees for their service to crime victims and witnesses

PHILADELPHIA (April 15, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams and the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy (PCVA) today held their annual luncheon and award ceremony in commemoration of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week (NCVRW). U.S. Senator Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania received the Legislative Award for his successful fight to release billions of dollars to the nation’s victim services providers from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fund. Money in this fund, solely sourced by fines paid by federal offenders, had been sitting for years in a federal account and not serving its congressional purpose – assisting crime victims.

“Senator Toomey, thank you for championing the legislation that kept the Victims of Crime Act funds properly flowing to our victim serving agencies and for doing all that you do to protect our youth who are the victims of crime,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I am also proud to give a special congratulations to ADA Andrew Notaristefano for his consistent drive for excellence and unending professionalism in the courtroom. Andrew’s tireless efforts to help victims in this City is truly admirable. To Senator Toomey, ADA Notaristefano and to all of today’s awardees, you have my thanks and unending gratitude for what you have done.”

 In addition to releasing billions of dollars to the VOCA Fund, Sen. Toomey introduced the Fairness for Crime Victims Act, which will make his reforms to the VOCA Fund permanent, and introduced legislation, which became law in 2015, that makes it illegal for school districts to assist known pedophiles in obtaining a job. He also fought to increase prison terms and penalties for human trafficking, child pornography, child prostitution and sexual exploitation of children. The other public servants honored at the ceremony were:

Andrew Notaristefano, Assistant District Attorney – Lynne Abraham Prosecutor Award – was recognized for his work in the courtroom and beyond. His passion for helping others, he received a previous Lynne Abraham Award after graduating law school in 2006, drives him. ADA Notaristefano tried and convicted Margarita Garabito of First Degree Murder for torturing her 10-year-old step-daughter to death and tried and convicted Rudolph McGriff, one of the City’s most notorious mass murders, of First Degree Murder last year. To date, ADA Notaristefano has received 32 murder convictions by trial in the last four years.

Jamie Manirakiza, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking for the Salvation Army – Catherine Bachrach Victim Advocate Award – is a tireless advocate in the fight against human trafficking in the City of Philadelphia. Manirakiza has dedicated her life to working with traumatized women involved in the commercial sex industry at the New Day Drop-in Center for Women in Kensington. She often accompanies victims to Family Court and teaches an introductory Women’s Studies course at Eastern University that concentrates on sex trafficking.

Dr. Mariza DiGiorgio McColgan, M.D., MSEd, FAAP – Health Care Professional Award – spearheaded several advocacy projects including the Children’s and Mom’s Project (CAMP), a successful pediatric domestic violence screening project, and the Family Safe Zone project, a pilot program to increase community protections to prevent child maltreatment. Dr. DiGiorgio McColgan is the Medical Director of the Child Protection Program at Philadelphia’s St. Christopher Hospital for Children; an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Drexel University’s College of Medicine; and a Founding Advisor, Board Chair and Pediatric Advisor of Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania.

Lynn Shiner, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (retired) – Special Recognition Award & Voice of the Victim – was celebrated for the 21 years of passion she brought to helping the victims of crime. Shiner began working for the Commission after she experienced a tragedy of her own, her two young children were murdered on Christmas Day in 1994. Shiner is also an award-winning author and was presented with the National Crime Victim Service Award by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. In 2014, she was presented with the Visionary Voice Award by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

PCVA, which is dedicated to promoting the rights of and advocating for crime victims, began in 1980 as the Philadelphia Crime and the Elderly Coalition. The Organization changed their name to the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy in 1983 to better reflect the people they serve. The annual luncheon is held during National Crime Victim’s Rights Week to honor those who have made significant contributions in addressing or advocating for the needs of crime victims.


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