Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY R. SETH WILLIAMS ANNOUNCES ENHANCED CONVICTION REVIEW UNIT TO INVESTIGATE AND REVIEW INNOCENCE CLAIMS

February 8, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 8, 2017) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced the creation of an enhanced Conviction Review Unit (CRU) to more effectively review claims of innocence from convicted offenders. The new unit, staffed by an independent four-person team, will be guided by new policies and protocols that have been reviewed by nationally recognized leaders in the field of wrongful convictions.

“Each and every day, the Assistant District Attorneys of this office go to court in order to do the right thing. The Conviction Review Unit is an extension of that drive and duty. This office is committed to justice and to ensuring that constitutional rights are upheld. However, the justice system is at times imperfect. Wrongful convictions undermine the integrity of the criminal justice system,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I have the utmost belief that the men and women of this new unit will help increase the public’s faith in our justice system. It is my office’s fundamental goal to ensure the right result in every case.”

Over the past six months, the District Attorney and his senior team have been researching best practices from CRUs across the country, including Brooklyn, NY, Dallas, TX, and Cuyahoga County, OH, and consulting with outside experts in developing the policies and protocols of our CRU.

To be as effective and efficient as possible, each claim of actual innocence will undergo a preliminary review. If the unit believes the claim meets the initial criteria, they will begin a comprehensive, independent investigation. If the claim does not pass the preliminary review, the petitioner will be notified. The unit’s protocols are intended to generally govern the CRU’s approach to investigating credible claims of actual innocence. Each investigation will be conducted in an individualized manner according to the specific and unique requirements of each case.

A Dedicated, Independent CRU

The unit will now have a dedicated staff of four professionals who will independently conduct a fair and thorough investigation of each innocence claim. They will report to Chief of Staff/Chief Integrity Officer Kathleen Martin. District Attorney Williams will ultimately make the determination on each claim and decide the appropriate remedy.

“I have worked with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on many occasions. When SEPTA learned of efforts to expand the Conviction Review Unit, we were happy to support it by detailing Detective Hedlin to the office,” said Thomas J. Nestel, III, Chief of SEPTA Transit Police. “The investigative experience Det. Hedlin brings to the unit is invaluable. Justice is served by protecting the innocent and the City as a whole is better for it.”

The following professionals will bring more than 70 years of legal and investigative experience to the new unit:

  • Kathleen Martin, Chief of Staff, General Counsel and Chief Integrity Officer – Martin has been with the DAO just over a year, after a brief time as an ADA in Pike County, PA. Prior to that, Martin spent twenty years as a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia defending hundreds of individuals accused of committing a wide range of crimes. Martin is a 1992 graduate of Temple University’s School of Law and a 1989 graduate of Villanova University.
  • ADA Elizabeth “B.J.” Graham-Rubin, Director of the Conviction Review Unit – Graham-Rubin is a graduate of Temple University’s School of Law and joined the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office in 1990. She has 25 years of experience in various units throughout the office’s Law and Trial Divisions. Most recently, Graham-Rubin served as Chief of the Civil Litigation Unit and, prior to that, was a member of the Post-Conviction Review Unit for ten years where she served as the Assistant Chief.
  • ADA Andrew Wellbrock, Assistant Director of the Conviction Review Unit – Wellbrock attended Temple University and Temple University’s School of Law. Wellbrock joined the office in 2008 and has prosecuted cases in numerous assignments. Previously, he was assigned to the Special Investigations Unit, investigating and prosecuting cases involving public corruption and police misconduct, and the Gun Violence Task Force, prosecuting the sources of illegal firearms and working on innovative solutions to reduce gun violence.
  • Detective Steve Hedlin – Hedlin has more than 20 years of service with Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). He was a patrol officer for the Department of Defense and a United States Marine. He also has completed criminal justice coursework at Temple University and has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology from the University of Iowa.
  • Jillian Roth, Paralegal – Before joining the Conviction Review Unit, Roth was a paralegal in the Legislation and Policy Unit. Roth received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing her law degree at Temple University.

In addition to reviewing cases, the unit will make recommendations on ways the DAO can improve and adopt nationally-recognized best practices. It will also publish an annual report and work cooperatively with petitioners’ attorneys. To submit a claim, or to find more information about the new unit, please visit www.phila.gov/districtattorney/. A copy the the new Conviction Review Protocol is available by emailing cameron.kline@phila.gov.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY R. SETH WILLIAMS ANNOUNCES $3.3 MILLION HEROIN BUST

February 2, 2017

Successful investigation the result of DEA partnership

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 2, 2017) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced the results of a successful joint investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Philadelphia Division that led to the arrest of three drug dealers and the confiscation of $3.3 million in heroin. Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes (DOB: 11/18/86), Zamary L. Roldan (DOB: 10/11/90) and Johel Pascal-Mateo (DOB: 11/24/90) have all been arrested and charged with Possession with the Intent to Deliver (Ungraded Felony) and Conspiracy (Ungraded Felony). If found guilty, each defendant could face approximately 60 years in prison.

“The more than 13 kilograms of heroin, which has a street value of $3.3 million dollars, that you see before you is thankfully no longer on the streets of Philadelphia,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I would like to thank the men and women of the Philadelphia Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration for their partnership and the hard work of my office’s Dangerous Drug Offender Unit. Recently our city learned about the deaths of several individuals from ‘bad’ heroin, and even though we don’t yet know if the heroin that came from this bust was or was not laced with deadly chemicals, it still sends a clear message that Philadelphia’s law enforcement community is going to keep doing all it can to make our streets as safe as they can be.”

“The criminal allegations against these three defendants involve a significant amount of heroin,” said Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Division. “Philadelphia County, as well as the Commonwealth at large, has experienced the loss of thousands of lives over the past few years due to fatal drug overdoses – the majority of which are the result of heroin. The seizure of this heroin, which was the result of the DEA’s partnership with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, will undoubtedly save lives across our region.”

On January 24, 2017, acting on information gathered from ongoing surveillance in the area of 7100 Bingham St., officers observed Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes enter and exit the property. Surveillance officers followed him to the area of Algon Ave. and Magee St. where he met with an unknown male. Officers observed Alavarez-Mercedes place a small white box in his car. After driving for a short period of time, Alavarez-Mercedes was stopped and officers found approximately three kilograms of heroin in the white box. Alavarez-Mercedes was taken into custody.

As Alavarez-Mercedes was being stopped, investigators at the property observed a female, later identified as Zamary L. Roldan, exiting the property with a diaper bag, hand bag, infant and a container. Roldan was stopped and voluntarily consented to having her car searched. Officers recovered four racks of glassine packets containing heroin, $5,000 and the container contained 18.4 pounds of heroin. Roldan was taken into custody and arrangements were made for family members to take possession of the infant.

Alavarez-Mercedes gave officers consent to search his residence on Bingham St. and they recovered .5 kilograms of heroin, packaging materials and scales. They also found in an upstairs bedroom ledger books, passports for Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes and Zamary L. Roldan, and 13 counterfeit $100 bills.

Investigators learned that Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes had made arrangements to meet with Johel Pascal-Mateo to distribute the three kilograms of heroin to Pascal-Mateo for transportation to New York City via the Geraldo Transport Service. Officers stopped Pascal-Mateo near the Geraldo Transport Service, arrested him and confiscated $485.

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THIS NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATE SAFELY, DON’T FIRE YOUR GUN IN THE AIR

December 28, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 29, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross and Joe Jaskolka, whose life almost ended from celebratory gun fire, today reminded Philadelphians to celebrate safely and not fire their weapons in the air this New Year’s Eve.

“What goes up, must come down, so be responsible this New Year’s Eve and do not shoot your gun in the air as you ring in 2017,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “If you are caught firing your weapon into the air, you could be charged with Recklessly Endangering Another Person and receive several years in prison. If the bullet hits and hurts someone, you could be charged with Aggravated Assault, Attempted Murder or even Murder.”

On Dec. 31, 1998, Joe Jaskolka was struck in the head by a bullet that was fired in “celebration” while he was walking in South Philadelphia. Joe, who was only 11-years-old at the time, still has the bullet lodged in his head and the person who fired the gun has never been caught. As a result of his injury, Joe is paralyzed on the right side of his body and can’t use the left-side of his vocal chords. He is now 29-years-old and has undergone 33 surgeries to his brain and 21 surgeries to his eyes. The Jaskolka family estimates that insurers have paid more than $15 million dollars to cover the cost of his surgeries.

“Celebratory gunfire is never a celebration for the family of a loved one lost or for a person struck by this reckless gunfire on New Year’s Eve,” said Commissioner Richard Ross. “There is zero tolerance for this type of behavior and we will arrest those committing these types of acts; we want people to ring in the New Year in a responsible, fun, and safe manner.”

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) received 132 reports of gunshots fired between 10 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2015 and 3 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2016. On an average, the PPD receives about ten reports of gunshots fired each night.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES ARREST OF PHILADELPHIA POLICE OFFICER FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER AND RELATED CRIMES

November 22, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (November 22, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that Philadelphia Police Officer Dorion Young is in custody for his involvement in the September 5, 2016, shooting that took place on the 2700 block of Taunton St. Young is charged with Attempted Murder (F1), Aggravated Assault (F1), Simple Assault (M2), Recklessly Endangering Another Person (M2) and Possession of an Instrument of Crime (M1).

“If you are a Philadelphia Police Officer, elected official or private citizen; you cannot use your gun to try to end an argument. And if you do, as I have said many times before, no matter your career or station in life, you will be charged fairly and to the fullest extent of the law for such a dangerous act,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “So today, I am charging Philadelphia Police Officer Dorion Young with Attempted Murder and several other charges for the shooting of his son.”

On Labor Day 2016, off-duty Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) Officer Dorion Young was inside his home on the 2700 Block of Taunton St. with his two sons and his oldest son’s girlfriend. Young started an argument with his oldest son over the disrespect he felt about the use of the family car. He had his personal, loaded .40 caliber pistol in his pocket. The argument turned physical and Young started waving his pistol in the air yelling, “you my son and you aren’t going to keep disrespecting me.” When Young left the bedroom, his son closed his bedroom door and Young called 911. Young, still angry, broke the door down and began to fight physically with his son. As his son began walking away, Young fired two shots. One shot went through Officer Young’s shoe, the other struck his son in the back. A short time later, 911 was called again and police arrived on the scene. Young’s son was transported to Aria Hospital by ambulance.

After a thorough investigation by PPD’s Internal Affairs Division, Shooting Team that included police reports, 911 calls, more than a dozen interviews, photos, ballistic and DNA tests, and physical evidence; it was found that criminal charges were warranted.

Young, DOB 5/31/1970, was hired by the Philadelphia Police Department in November of 1991 and was last assigned to the 15th Police District. He has been suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss by the Philadelphia Police Department. His next appearance in court has yet to be scheduled.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY REMINDS BLACK FRIDAY AND CYBER MONDAY SHOPPERS TO BE SMART THIS SEASON

November 21, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 21, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today reminded Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers to be safe and smart when making their store and online purchases with these simple shopping tips.

“The malls and stores will be crowded on Black Friday, which is why it is important to have a designated rendezvous point in case anyone gets lost or separated. Also, many of us will be shopping at home on Cyber Monday, so please remember to be safe and protect yourself,” said District Attorney Williams. “Watchdog groups like Consumer Reports regularly report that U.S. consumers need to do more to protect their privacy and financial information no matter if they shop in a store or online.”

Here are some easy tips that will help you stay safe on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all year long:

  1. Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet or write your social security number on your checks.
  1. Watch out for “shoulder surfers.” Shield the keypad when typing your passwords on computers and at ATMs.
  2. Shred your old receipts, credit card offers, account statements and expired cards to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.
  1. Make sure the price you see is the price you pay, check your receipts.
  2. Keep your current receipts in a safe place, record your purchases and track your deliveries.
  3. Protect your private information when shopping online and make sure you only purchase from reputable retailers. Don’t be tricked into giving out your credit card or financial information for “drawings” or “seasonal promotions.”
  4. Watch out for scammers posing as charities; a little investigation makes a difference.
  5. Don’t forget to read the company’s privacy and return policies before you make your purchase.
  6. Download apps from reputable sources and read user reviews before entering personal and financial information.
  7. Be vigilant about where you put your purse, wallet, keys and smartphone.
  8. Lock your car doors, even if you will only be gone for a few minutes. Don’t leave money, phone charging cords, bags and expensive items in clear view.
  9. Read your bank and credit card statements thoroughly, especially in December and January.

As an additional safety precaution, contact one of the three credit reporting agencies and ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report. You only need to call one agency because all three companies share fraud alert requests.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES TRANSPARENT, PROGRESSIVE OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING PROTOCOL

November 10, 2016

New procedure stresses the importance of transparency and allows public and media review

PHILADELPHIA (November 10, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that he is implementing a new protocol to ensure public transparency and accountability whenever an officer uses his or her weapon in the line of duty. The protocol will guide the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s (DAO) investigation when a Philadelphia Police Officer discharges his or her weapon, whether on or off duty, and require public disclosure of the investigation and its outcome.

“Using a weapon is one of the hardest things that a police officer has to do, but too often after a shooting, the public is left with more questions than answers, leading to false accusations and distrust,” said District Attorney R. Seth Williams today. “This new protocol establishes a clear, transparent, and accountable process of review for every police involved shooting. Most importantly, it requires disclosure and explanation to the public of what happened.”

“Philadelphia has been fortunate because we have not seen the problems that other communities have,” continued District Attorney Williams. “I believe that is due to the high caliber and training of our officers and the work that my office has done to fully and fairly review any and all officer involved shootings. But doing everything right if it’s closed behind doors, isn’t enough – the people of the City of Philadelphia deserve to know what happened and why.”

The new protocol ensures an independent, fair review of every police involved shooting, transparency throughout the DAO’s investigation, and accountability once it is concluded. The office’s complete investigative file will be made available to the victim’s family, civil counsel, the public and the media for independent analysis. The complete investigative file will include all of the materials the investigative team considered, with the necessary redactions for the safety of the witnesses, minus the Assistant District Attorney’s work product.

“I commend District Attorney Seth Williams and his office for the tremendous work they have done on protocols for officer use of deadly force procedures,” said David LaBahn, President and CEO of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. “The procedures DA Williams announced today are forward-thinking and thoughtful, and will improve the manner in which these cases are handled from start to finish in Philadelphia. This means that the public will ultimately conclude that the process of officer use of deadly force investigations will be done with integrity and in the pursuit of justice.”

Some of the new protocol’s highlights include:

  • A Special Investigations Unit Assistant District Attorney will be present at the scene after an officer involved shooting and monitor the Police Department’s investigation, independently review the evidence, and make a decision about whether to recommend if any law enforcement personnel should face charges or discipline;
  • The District Attorney may visit with the decedent’s family members initially after an incident to explain the investigative process;
  • If, at the end of the investigation, criminal charges are filed, the DAO will announce the decision and make information available to the public as provided by law;
  • If criminal charges are not filed, the DAO will prepare a report detailing an analysis of the facts, the law of the case and the reasoning for the decision;
  • The District Attorney will notify the Police Commissioner about the outcome of investigation and meet privately with the victim’s family to communicate the decision and the reasons supporting it; and
  • The DAO’s report will be made available to the public within 60 days after the investigation is completed.

“The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association congratulates Philadelphia for its proactive approach in addressing the need for clear guidelines in cases of officer-involved shootings. We commend District Attorney Williams and the District Attorney’s Office for taking this step today to ensure fair and just outcomes. Seeking fairness and justice in our criminal justice system is always the right thing to do,” added Rich Long, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

“These new procedures strike an important balance between protecting our community, protecting police, and protecting the public,” added District Attorney Williams. “By having an open, transparent and accountable process of review whenever an officer uses their weapon, the people of Philadelphia can be assured that we remain accountable to the people we serve.”

Parties interested in requesting a file to review should contact Chief of Staff Kathleen Martin at 215-686-8709 or by emailing kathleen.martin@phila.gov. The entire Officer Involved Shooting Protocol follows.

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OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING PROTOCOL

Types of Cases

The District Attorney’s Office will investigate every case where a law enforcement officer discharges a firearm in the City and County of Philadelphia. This includes on and off duty shootings, cases where no one is injured, cases where either the police officer or a citizen is injured, and cases where a police officer or citizen is killed.

The District Attorney’s Office also will investigate any deaths where the use of force by a law enforcement officer or correctional officer may be a proximate cause of death.

The District Attorney’s Office will lead the investigation in cases resulting in death, and will coordinate the investigation with the Office of the Medical Examiner and the Philadelphia Police Department, or other involved law enforcement agency.

 

Person Injured or Killed

Notification:

The involved law enforcement agency will promptly notify the District Attorney’s Office of an officer involved shooting, or in-custody death. The Special Investigations Unit ADA on-call will respond to the scene in all cases where there is a fatality or person critically injured. The SIU ADA, upon responding to the scene, will speak with the Philadelphia Police shooting team, or relevant investigating authority and offer assistance.

In cases where a person is injured, the SIU ADA on-call will be available to receive and review paperwork and answer questions.

In cases where a person is killed, the District Attorney may contact the family of the deceased and invite them to the District Attorney’s Office to be apprised of our investigative process.

Investigation:

The SIU ADA will be tasked with determining the facts and circumstances of the incident, and whether criminal charges are warranted.

The ADA will review the evidence. It is the responsibility of the ADA to pursue additional investigative measures, and if necessary, recommend whether any law enforcement personnel should be charged with any crime(s).

As part of the inquiry, the ADA will monitor the Police Department’s investigation and obtain the Police Department’s report, witness statements, photographs, recordings, results of testing and any other relevant information. In fatal shootings, the investigator will obtain a copy of the autopsy report from the Medical Examiner. The ADA should ensure that a thorough investigation has been completed before results are presented further.

Additional interviews at the family’s request should be considered.

The ADA should conclude the investigation, including a grand jury presentation if necessary, as soon as reasonably practicable.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the ADA will present the facts of the case to the Unit Chief. The Chief and ADA will then present the facts of the case to the Divisional Deputy.   The Deputy will present the case and make recommendations to the First Assistant, the Chief of Staff, and the District Attorney.

The District Attorney will make the final decision whether or not to charge. The District Attorney’s decision will be based on two considerations: the facts and the law.

 

Investigating Grand Jury

In an appropriate circumstance, the ADA may seek approval to submit the case to the investigating grand jury. The ADA will present the facts of the case to the Unit Chief. The Chief and ADA will then present the facts of the case to the Divisional Deputy. The Deputy will present the case and recommendation to the First Assistant, the Chief of Staff, and the District Attorney.

The District Attorney will decide whether or not to submit the case to the investigating grand jury.

After submission and completion of the investigating grand jury process, the grand jury, as permitted by law, may or may not issue a presentment recommending charges and may or may not issue a report of its findings.

 

Charges / Public Information

If the District Attorney decides to file criminal charges, the District Attorney will announce the decision. Information will be made available to the public as provided by law.

 

No Charges / Public Information

Report:

If the District Attorney decides that no criminal charges will be filed, the District Attorney’s Office will prepare a comprehensive report detailing an analysis of the facts and law of the case and the reasoning for the District Attorney’s decision.

The District Attorney will notify the Police Commissioner in writing of the decision.

The District Attorney will meet privately with the victim’s family to communicate the decision and the reasons supporting it.

The District Attorney will invite community leaders to inform them of the decision and the reasons supporting it.

The District Attorney’s report will be released to the public within 60 days of the completed investigation.

No separate report will be issued by the District Attorney if the case was submitted to the investigating grand jury and the investigating grand jury issued a report.

Open File:

To ensure transparency in this process, following the release of the District Attorney’s report, the complete investigative file will be available to the family, and civil counsel if applicable. Additionally, the complete investigative file will be open to the media for independent analysis. The complete investigative file will include all materials considered in the case with necessary redactions, but will not include attorney work product.

Parties requesting file review may contact Chief of Staff Kathleen Martin at 215-686-8709 or Kathleen.Martin@phila.gov.

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S ELECTION FRAUD TASK FORCE STANDS READY FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

November 2, 2016

Hotline will take calls at 215-686-9641, 9643 or 9644

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 2, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today was joined by Philadelphia City Commissioners Clark, Schmidt, and Deeley and David Thornburgh, President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy to share details about how their offices are preparing for the November 8th election.

“The coverage of this upcoming election is unlike anything we have seen before, not to mention the fact that one of the nominees for president has been making false allegations about the integrity of Philadelphia’s elections for weeks now, but we are ready,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “The Election Fraud Task Force is ready to respond to whatever happens on November 8th and I want to make sure each and every Philadelphian who has a concern or is experiencing difficulty casting their ballot calls us.”

Once the polls open, Philadelphians can call the Election Fraud Task Force at 215-686-9641, 9643 or 9644 if they are experiencing difficulty casting their ballot. The Task Force will have more than 70 Assistant District Attorneys (ADA) and several dozen detectives, the most assigned to the Task Force to date, available to address any Election Day concerns.

ADAs will be strategically deployed throughout the city before the polls open. Additionally, there will be ADAs specially assigned to support the Committee of Seventy’s Election Day activities and ADAs stationed in Philadelphia’s Central Election Court to respond to any Election Day concerns. As always, if the need arises, the Election Fraud Task Force can enlist any of the 300 ADAs who are not in court on Election Day to respond to emerging issues.

“If you would like to find your polling place go to http://www.philadelphiavotes.com. Also, to view your sample ballot go to http://www.philadelphiavotes.com and enter your address in the search box,” said Anthony Clark, Philadelphia City Commissioner. “We expect November 8th to be a busy one, so do your homework before you head to the polls.

“Voters should have confidence that our offices are working, and will continue to work, together to ensure a fair election,” said Al Schmidt, Philadelphia City Commissioner. “We are here today to tell you that we will be ready, and that you should contact us should any issues arise.”

“The Office of the City Commissioners and their Civil Service staff have been working 12 to 14 hour days to prepare for a smooth, fair and transparent election in the City of Philadelphia. We urge all of our voters to be proactive and visit our website philadelphiavotes.com or call 215-686-1590 to find out their polling location. As an added resource, we are mailing every voter in the City a postcard with their name, address, Ward, Division and their polling location. We have also partnered with 311 to help voters find their polling locations, either through 311’s website or by calling 311 directly,” said Lisa M. Deeley, Philadelphia City Commissioner.

“While we have sometimes seen things differently, we are pleased today to join in common cause with the City Commissioners and the District Attorney to reassure Philadelphian voters, and the nation, that we expect a fair and honest election next Tuesday. This election is too important. The eyes of the world will be on Philadelphia, the City Commissioners and the District Attorney’s Office, and we commend them for redoubling their efforts to ensure that every vote counts, that every voter counts, and that anyone who chooses to disturb or distort the process will feel the full force of law,” said David Thornburgh, President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy.

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, intimidation and illegal electioneering. To date, the Task Force has made eight arrests for voter fraud related issues.

Most recently, four election officials from Philadelphia’s 18th Ward, 1st Division were charged after the 2014 General Election for voting multiple times after the polls closed and for falsely certifying an election official’s residency.

In 2014, 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 ADAs and detectives. The office will also issue Election Day updates via its Twitter account while the polls are open.

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THREE PHILADELPHIA CORRECTIONS OFFICERS ARE CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED ASSAULT AND OTHER CHARGES FOR THE JUNE BEATING OF AN INMATE

October 25, 2016

Milton Gibbs, Terrance Bailey and Shaun Lowe turned themselves in today and are currently under arrest

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 26, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that three Corrections Officers from the Philadelphia Department of Prisons surrendered this morning on charges stemming from the June 2016 assault of an inmate inside the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (PICC) and their attempt to cover up the incident.

Corrections Officers Milton Gibbs, Terrance Bailey and Shaun Lowe are charged with Aggravated Assault (F1), Conspiracy (F1), Simple Assault (M2), Recklessly Endangering Another Person (M2), Tampering with Public Records (F3), Unsworn Falsification to Authorities (M2), Obstructing Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function (M2), and Official Oppression (M2).

“We cannot stand for any kind of assault, and this attack on a handcuffed inmate by sworn corrections officers is egregious. Every inmate who is held in our prisons deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” said District Attorney Williams. “I’d like to thank our partners in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons for their vigilance in recognizing this abhorrent conduct and requesting further investigation. I’d also like to thank Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wellbrock of my Special Investigations Unit for investigating and prosecuting this case.”

It is alleged that on the evening of June 21, 2016, Gibbs became agitated with the victim, a male inmate, and began pounding on his cell door and threatening him. After returning to the control desk, Gibbs called Bailey and they entered the victim’s cell and began to repeatedly punch and kick the victim. Eventually, they handcuffed the victim and walked him down a staircase, striking him along the way. Once they arrived at the cell block’s exit, Bailey struck the victim in the back of the head knocking him to the ground. Gibbs and Bailey then dragged the victim into the central control area and began to stomp on him. Lowe arrived on scene and joined in the assault. The victim lost consciousness at least twice during the assault. While much of the assault was captured on video, portions occurred where the defendants knew there were no cameras.

After the assault, Gibbs and Bailey submitted a mental health referral alleging that the victim intentionally harmed himself to cover up the assault. As part of the referral, Lowe transported the victim to the receiving room and Gibbs tried to coerce the victim to not report the incident in exchange for food from the staff kitchen. All three defendants submitted written reports of the incident that omitted their own actions and stated that only “open hand” controls were used to subdue the victim.

As a result of today’s arrest, Milton Gibbs (Date of Birth: January 22, 1964), Terrance Bailey (Date of Birth: January 22, 1986), Shaun Lowe (Date of Birth: July 5, 1990) are suspended without pay pending the outcome of their criminal proceedings.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY SETH WILLIAMS RELEASES STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF KENNETH P. THOMPSON, THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN TO SERVE AS BROOKLYN’S DISTRICT ATTORNEY

October 10, 2016

On behalf of the entire Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, I would like to extend condolences to Kenneth P. Thompson’s family, friends and the people of Brooklyn. Ken was a friend and colleague. He was the first African American to serve as Brooklyn’s District Attorney. And he never stopped fighting to reduce unnecessary prison over-crowding and championed effective case review.

I had the honor to work with Ken through the American Prosecutor’s Association and, in fact, he was recently in Philadelphia for a meeting with African American DAs to find more effective ways to investigate and prosecute police involved shootings.

Ken has left us far too soon. He will certainly be missed and, with a heavy heart, I will keep Ken and his family, friends, and the men and women of the Kings’ County District Attorney’s Office in my prayers.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE ISSUES STATEMENT ON ARREST AND CHARGING OF WALTER WEEKS AFTER DNC CONVENTION ASSAULT

September 7, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 7, 2016) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office today released the following statement about the arrest and charging of Walter Weeks for assaulting a fellow delegate during the Democratic National Convention:

Based on what we later learned was an incomplete investigation, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) initially declined charges in this case. But, after further investigation by the DAO including a review of additional video and eyewitness testimony, the Office has charged Walter Weeks of Garnet Valley, PA with Indecent Assault as a second degree misdemeanor. Mr. Weeks, who turned himself in to the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit today around 4 p.m., is being charged for assaulting a fellow DNC delegate at a hotel in Center City Philadelphia.

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