Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

FOUR MEMBERS OF THE PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE HONORED FOR FIGHTING FRAUD

May 4, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (May 4, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that four members of the office’s Insurance Fraud Unit have won the 2015 Fraud Fighter Award. The award was given to Assistant District Attorney Dawn Holtz, Assistant Chief of the Insurance Fraud Unit; Assistant District Attorney Linda Montag; and Detectives Robert DiFrancesco and Alfredo Quintile by the Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority (IFPA).

“Being a public servant quite often requires that we go the extra mile to get the job done, and that is why I am always pleased when other agencies, such as IFPA, recognize the hard work that we do each and every day,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have the honor to work with some of the most elite public servants that this city has to offer, so congratulations goes out to Assistant District Attorneys Holtz and Montag and to Detectives DiFrancesco and Quintile for fighting fraud.”

Assistant Chief Dawn Hotlz and Detective Robert DiFrancesco received an award for their work on the multi-million dollar insurance fraud scheme that lead to the arrest of Ronald Galati Sr., a South Philadelphia body shop owner, and 40 others.  After a 16-month grand jury investigation of American Collison and Auto Center in Philadelphia the defendants were accused of various schemes to defraud insurance companies and Philadelphia tax payers.  Victimized insurance companies reportedly paid out more than $2 million from fraudulent claims submitted by and through American Collision. Many of the fraudulent claims involved deer blood and carcasses, staged collisions, fraudulent vehicle rental bills, intentional vandalism and the payment of fees to and waiver of insurance deductibles. It was also alleged that Galati fraudulently obtained a City of Philadelphia contract to repair city vehicles.

ADA Linda Montag and Detective Alfredo Quintile received the award for a $400,000 complex slip-and-fall insurance fraud scheme that spanned seven years.  After a two-year Grand Jury investigation, 46 people, including a local attorney were arrested. The attorney, Andrew Gaber was alleged to have directed the scheme from his Center City office; he reportedly committed suicide after learning that he was to be arrested.

The award ceremony took place on April 27, 2015. The IFPA has been fighting insurance fraud since 1995 and supporting the law enforcement personnel who aggressively investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Their mission is to determine the scope of Pennsylvania’s insurance fraud problem and fund grantees who prevent, detect and prosecute fraud-related crimes. While the anti-fraud efforts of many other states are centralized in a single agency, Pennsylvania has a decentralized program to give insurers and consumer-victims increased access to law enforcement. The IFPA’s operations are funded by assessments to insurance companies that conduct business with the Commonwealth.

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL ARREST RI QUANG WU FOR BRIBERY

April 30, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (April 30, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams and Philadelphia Inspector General Amy L. Kurland today announced the arrest of Ri Quang Wu for bribing a property evaluator from the Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment (OPA). Wu is charged with Bribery in Official and Political Matters and Obstruction Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function.

“Big or small, a bribe is a bribe and it will not be tolerated,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I applaud the dedicated public servants in this case who not only acted with extreme professionalism but were true to their oath to serve the citizens of Philadelphia with integrity. I’d also like to thank Inspector General Kurland and her team for their continued good work and partnership.”

On May 5, 2014, the Philadelphia Office of Inspector General (OIG) was contacted by the OPA because one of their property evaluators was given a bribe of $300 by Ri Quang Wu (date of birth: 4-12-1956) during a property reassessment that took place on the 500 block of Mountain Street in South Philadelphia.

“This case is especially important because it shows that the City of Philadelphia is not for sale, that city employees are indeed honest and hardworking and that we won’t tolerate our reputations being tarnished. We value our strong partnership with the District Attorney’s office – together we can make the city a better place,” said Inspector General Kurland.

On April 29, 2014, at a Bureau of Revenue and Taxation (BRT) property assessment appeals hearing for the Mountain Street property, all parties agreed to set up an interior reassessment for the property. Mr. Wu was at the hearing and the reassessment was scheduled for May 5, 2014.

During the reassessment Wu “bumped” into the evaluator and stuffed $300 into his pants. After trying to return the money, and Wu repeatedly refusing to take it back, the evaluator returned to the OPA, alerted his supervisors and turned in the $300. OPA then notified the Office of Inspector General who engaged the District Attorney’s Office to have Wu arrested after a review of the evidence. Wu is currently being held in custody by the Philadelphia Police Department.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S STATEMENT ON PA SUPREME COURT MONSIGNOR LYNN DECISION

April 27, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (April 27, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today issued the following statement in response to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to reverse a superior court’s Monsignor Lynn decision:

I was pleased to learn this afternoon that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court believes that there is sufficient evidence to prove Monsignor William Lynn guilty of endangering the welfare of children. The Supreme Court saw the same evidence that the hard working men and women of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office presented in court, and we are gratified that the court supports our interpretation of the evidence.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the brave victims who testified in court and their families for supporting them.

Today’s announcement sends the clear message that if anyone – priest, layperson, citizen, police officer or elected official – knowingly puts children at risk of being sexually molested, they will be held accountable.

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FIVE PUBLIC SERVANTS HONORED BY THE PHILADELPHIA COALITION FOR VICTIM ADVOCACY FOR THEIR SERVICE TO CRIME VICTIMS AND WITNESSES

April 24, 2015

Annual luncheon celebrates awardees during National Crime Victim’s Rights Week

PHILADELPHIA (April 24, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams in conjunction with the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy (PCVA) today held their annual luncheon and award ceremony to commemorate National Crime Victim’s Rights Week.

“All too often we don’t take enough time to honor and celebrate the hard working public servants that help and advocate for crime victims and witnesses, so congratulations to all of the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy award winners,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “But I need to offer a special congratulations to two of the shining stars in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office: Jacqueline Coelho and Tami Levin. They are tireless advocates and do a great job at setting the bar high for the rest of us.”

The awards and awardees included:

  • Tami Levin, Director of Victim and Witness Services – Catherine Bachrach Victim Advocate Award for making significant contributions to the lives of crime victims. She tirelessly advocates on behalf of victims and witnesses by doing all she can, including finding alternative sources of funding and implementing creative programs, to offer support to the city’s underserved victim populations.
  • Officer Zoraida Charon, #1505, VAO – District 25, East Division – Barbara McPherson Award/Police Personnel Award for being a tireless advocate of children, elderly and young teens who did not have a voice after a crime was committed against them. Officer Charon joined the Philadelphia Police Department in 1987 and now, 28 years later, is a Victim Assistance Officer.
  • Jacqueline Coelho, Assistant District Attorney, Chief of the Northeast Bureau – Lynne Abraham Prosecutor Award for her outstanding work in the courtroom. She has developed a reputation for taking care of the victims that she interacts with and has been known to travel out of state to make sure they can make their voices heard during court proceedings.
  • Shea M. Rhodes, Esquire – Volunteer Award for her service to the survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, prostitution and human trafficking. Rhodes is currently working closely with the First Judicial District Juvenile Court as they pilot a new court to help trafficked children. She also serves on a steering committee to advise the First Judicial District of Philadelphia and the Department of Human Services on their response to commercially and sexually exploited children in Philadelphia’s foster care system.
  • Honorable Lori A. Dumas – Judicial Court Award for her service to the First Judicial District. Her commitment to children and families is personified through her sincere and dedicated efforts on and off the bench. Judge Dumas has presided over the human trafficking pilot program of the Philadelphia Family Court, which she created to address the significant needs of children who have been commercially sexually exploited.

PCVA began in 1980 as the Philadelphia Crime and the Elderly Coalition and was changed to Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy in 1983 to reflect its changing service population.

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. The mission of PCVA is to promote the rights of crime victims through systematic advocacy, education and collaboration.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES THE ARREST OF THREE PHILADELPHIA POLICE OFFICERS

April 23, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (April 23, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that he arrested three Philadelphia Police Officers, in three separate cases, for charges that include Animal Cruelty, Perjury and Theft.

“The vast majority of Philadelphia Police Officers are nothing short of good men and women who are dedicated to protecting the citizens of the City of Philadelphia within the law. Unfortunately, there are a few like these three officers, who have decided to break the law,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “Whether it be Animal Cruelty, Perjury, Theft or any other crime, our city deserves better then what Officers Roderick, Hulmes and Jackson have given us.”

Police Officer Roderick Walton was arrested today and charged with Cruelty to Animals. On December 15, 2014, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) received an anonymous tip about an abused dog. A Humane Society police officer was sent to Walton’s home and was led to a damp and moldy back basement room where a Cane Corso called “Bear” was located. The dog was suffering from a broken leg and Walton admitted that the dog was “like that for a week.” The dog, who could not put weight on his broken leg, was dirty, musty and smelled of urine and mold. When asked why the dog was not taken to a veterinarian for treatment, Walton said that he was too busy. After “Bear” was examined he was found to be in severe pain and was humanely euthanized because of his condition. Walton (date of birth: February 26, 1965) was hired by the Philadelphia Police Department on August 26, 1991, and was assigned to the 14th Police District on January 3, 2001. He is currently on desk duty awaiting trial.

Police Officer Christopher Hulmes was arrested today and charged with Perjury, False Swearing, Unsworn Falsifications to Authorities, False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities, Tampering with Public Records and Information, and Obstructing Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function. On the evening of May 7, 2010, Officer Hulmes was assigned to the Narcotics Strike Force when he and his partner conducted a narcotics surveillance near H and Thayer Streets resulting in two narcotics arrests. Hulmes prepared the paperwork and affidavit of probable cause for subsequent search warrants. Hulmes testified on two separate occasions and made false statements under oath and on the police paperwork regarding the incident. Hulmes (date of birth: May 9, 1972) was hired by the Philadelphia Police Force in 1996 and assigned to the Narcotics Strike Force in 2000. He was temporarily re-assigned in August to desk duty at the Differential Police Response Unit.

Police Officer Christopher Jackson was arrested today and charged with Theft and Receiving Stolen Property. On April 13, 2013, Officer Jackson was transporting a witness to Philadelphia Police Headquarters to be interviewed by the Homicide Unit. At the time, the complainant was in possession of his Samsung Galaxy S smartphone. He was put in the rear of Jackson’s police vehicle after Jackson confiscated his cell phone. After being interviewed by the Homicide Unit, Jackson did not return the complainant’s cell phone or turn it over to detectives. A phone record search revealed that, thirteen days later, Jackson took the phone to his local mobile store and had it changed over to his account and phone number. Jackson (date of birth: April 2, 1984) was hired by the Philadelphia Police Department on February 13, 2006, and was assigned to the 25th Police District. He is currently on desk duty awaiting trial.

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DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY GEORGE D. MOSEE, JR. HONORED WITH THE SUPPORT CENTER FOR CHILD ADVOCATES’ 2015 DISTINGUISHED ADVOCATE AWARD

April 22, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (April 22, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that George D. Mosee, Jr., Deputy District Attorney for the Juvenile Division was honored with the Support Center for Child Advocates’ 2015 Distinguished Advocate Award.

“I can think of no better organization out there fighting and serving abused and neglected children than the Support Center for Child Advocates, and I can think of no better person than George Mosee to win the 2015 Distinguished Advocate Award,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “George is compassionate, dedicated and a true advocate for children and the promise and potential that each and every one of them has within in them. Congratulations my friend.”

The ceremony not only commemorated the Support Center for Child Advocates’ 38 years as the nation’s leading pro bono legal and social service advocacy organization but celebrated some of the region’s most dedicated public servants.

“This award is an honor,” said George D. Mosee, Jr., Deputy District Attorney, Juvenile Division. “And it’s especially meaningful because it comes from the Support Center which, under the leadership of Executive Director Frank Cervone, is shaping juvenile justice policy in Pennsylvania and advocating for the children we serve. I don’t receive this award alone because I stand with and thank all the men and women of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and, in particular, the Juvenile Division for their amazing work.”

Deputy District Attorney George Mosee has headed the Juvenile Division of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office since October of 2002. Mosee joined the office in 1988 and from 1995 to 2002 was the Deputy District Attorney in charge of the office’s Narcotics Division. Before joining the District Attorney’s Office, he was the Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Carolyn Engel Temin, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Mosee is a 1973 graduate of Philadelphia’s Central High School. He received a B.A. in 1977 and Master’s Degree in 1981 from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and a J.D. in 1986 from Temple University School of Law. Today, he lives in Northeast Philadelphia with his family and remains active in Philadelphia’s legal community.

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PHILADELPHIA INVESTIGATING GRAND JURY RECOMMENDS CHARGES AGAINST HASSANATU WULU IN THE DEATH OF CHRISTINA SANKEY, 37 YEAR OLD AUTISTIC WOMAN

April 22, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (April 23, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that a Philadelphia Investigating Grand Jury recommended charging Hassanatu Wulu with a Felony of the First Degree for the Neglect of a Dependent Care Person and a Misdemeanor of the Second Degree Recklessly Endangering Another Person in the death of Christina Sankey.

Sankey, who was a 37-year-old, severely autistic woman, was left unsupervised in a Center City department store and after walking away on her own was found dead in West Philadelphia the next morning. First Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann conducted the grand jury investigation and is prosecuting the case.

“This is a heartbreaking example of how a careless dereliction of duty by a trusted care giver led to a woman’s death,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “Christina Sankey needed constant supervision, and her Individual Support Plan and companion care needs reflected that. Simply put, Hassanatu Wulu failed at her job and didn’t follow her training and emergency procedures, so Christina wandered out into the cold March weather in 2014 to die alone.

“Her death is a tragedy and my deepest condolences go out to the Sankey family. I’d also like to thank the Philadelphia Grand Jury for their hard work and recommendation of charges,” added Williams.

Christina Sankey lived with her mother and sister in South Philadelphia. She was born with profound disabilities and was unable to speak, bathe or go to the bathroom without assistance. Wulu had been Christina’s assigned worker for approximately four years prior to March of 2014, was trained on multiple occasions about how to care for Christina, and was instructed that she could not be left unwatched, even for a few seconds.

After leaving the Sankey home, Wulu took Christina with her to Magee Rehabilitation on the 1500 block of Race Street, where she dropped off some paperwork and then went into Macy’s in Center City. Security video shows Wulu walking into the store – with Christina behind her – at 2:25 p.m. Moreover, Wulu was not holding Christina’s hand. The two arrived at a jewelry table and in a matter of seconds Christina left the area alone because she was not being watched.

Less than two and one half minutes after she walked away from Wulu, Christina left the Macy’s through one of the Chestnut Street doors. A video camera at the Walgreens on the 1300 block of Chestnut Street showed Christina walking west on Chestnut Street towards Broad Street. Christina crossed Broad Street against the light and was nearly hit by a car. She then proceeded south on the west side of Broad Street and ultimately out of view of the Walgreen’s camera.

Casmir Care, Wulu’s employer, has a written policy and procedure in case a consumer like Christina leaves his or her assigned worker. Wulu was trained on that policy. It says that staff needs “to keep consumer in line of sight at all times” and “to keep consumer within arm length at all times, and in a crowded area to “hold onto the consumer’s hand/wrist” or shoulder. In the event that the client gets away and the staff member is unable to locate the client, the policy requires the staff to “immediately notify 911 and report the consumer missing.” After calling 911, “staff must then contact the supervisor of the situation including the information provided to the police. After contacting the supervisor, the staff is required to “contact the consumer’s family/guardian to inform them that the consumer is missing and the police have been called.” Wulu did none of these things and only called 911 an hour after Christina went missing.

Christina was found the next morning at 6:30 a.m., on the 1400 block of North 57th Street in West Philadelphia, where police, responding to a radio call, discovered her partially clothed body. The doctor testified that he found no evidence of trauma and concluded that Christina died of exposure to the cold within four hours of the time her body was discovered.

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AFTER REVIEW OF EVIDENCE, PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY WILLIAMS DETERMINES CRIMINAL CHARGES CANNOT BE FILED IN THE SHOOTING DEATH OF BRANDON TATE-BROWN

March 19, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (March 19, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that after an extensive review of the evidence – including video, forensics and statements from both Philadelphia Police Officers and independent witnesses – he cannot file charges against the Philadelphia Police Officers involved in the shooting death of Brandon Tate-Brown.

“The loss of any life is sad, but it’s heartbreaking when a mother has to bury a child,” said District Attorney Williams. “My team and I have spent hours reviewing statements from multiple witnesses and Philadelphia Police Officers, video from three different locations, DNA and ballistic information, the actions of Philadelphia Police Officers and Mr. Tate-Brown, and extensive physical evidence. All the evidence indicates that Mr. Tate-Brown, after repeatedly struggling with officers, appeared to be reaching for an illegal handgun at the time he was shot.”

District Attorney Williams was joined by civic and religious leaders and elected officials for the announcement.

Earlier in the week, District Attorney Williams met with more than 20 religious and community leaders to present an overview of the evidence (i.e. video, forensic and officer and witness testimony). And last month, District Attorney Williams spoke with the mother of Brandon Tate-Brown to offer his condolences.

The standard that the Philadelphia District Attorney must employ to determine whether a Police Officer used or did not use the appropriate level of force is mandated by the Pennsylvania Crimes Code (18 Pa.C.S. § 508 – Use of Force in Law Enforcement). That standard provides for the use of deadly force if the officer reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent the use of deadly force against himself or others. In this case, the officer’s actions were not in violation of the crimes code.

Some of the questions that were answered during the investigation include:

QUESTION: Did anyone see Brandon Tate-Brown’s gun?

EVIDENCE: Both officers promptly reported to others that a gun had been seen in the car during the traffic stop. The gun was photographed and recovered from the car immediately after the shooting.

QUESTION: Was the gun Brandon Tate-Brown’s and could it have been left in the rental car from the previous renter?

EVIDENCE: Brandon Tate-Brown’s DNA was on the gun.

QUESTION: Was Brandon Tate-Brown shot from behind after trying to run away?

EVIDENCE: Numerous independent eyewitnesses confirmed statements by police officers that Brandon Tate-Brown was not trying to run away but instead tried to re-enter the passenger side of his car where the gun was located.

Philadelphia District Attorney Charges Two Current and One Former PA State Representative with Bribery, Conspiracy and Other Crimes  

March 10, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (March 10, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today charged Pennsylvania State Representatives Louise Williams Bishop and Michelle Brownlee and former Pennsylvania State Representative Harold James with Criminal Conspiracy, Bribery in Official and Political Matters, Conflict of Interest, and Failure to Make Required Disclosures in Statement of Financial Interests for accepting money in exchange for promised political actions.

“The citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the people of Philadelphia deserve nothing but honest and hardworking representation. They don’t deserve elected officials who think that it is ok to sell their office,” said District Attorney Williams. “There are no free passes when it comes to corruption and the elected officials who break the law, and so I’d also like to thank the grand jury, the members of the District Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Task Force and the Pennsylvania State Police for their hard work and dedication.”

Recordings that were made by a confidential informant (CI) showed Bishop accepting three cash payments totaling $1,500, Brownlee accepting one cash payment of $2,000, and James accepting one payment totaling $750.

Brownlee and James testified before the investigating grand jury and admitted to what they had done. Bishop appeared before the grand jury after being subpoenaed but declined to answer questions about her relationship with the CI and the allegations contained in the attached presentment.

This presentment, which is part of an undercover investigation spearheaded by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (OAG) between 2010 and 2012, is the third issued by the grand jury.  It previously recommended charges against Thomasine Tynes, the former President Judge of the Philadelphia Traffic Court and Pennsylvania State Representatives Ronald Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown.

Representatives Bishop and Brownlee and former Representative James will be turning themselves in to the Pennsylvania State Police this morning. A complete copy of the grand jury’s third presentment is attached.

 

PADGE WINDSLOWE CONVICTED OF 3RD DEGREE MURDER

March 9, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (March 9, 2015) – Today, 43-year-old Padge Windslowe was convicted by a jury of her peers of Third Degree Murder, Aggravated Assault, and two counts of Possession of an Instrument in Crime.

“What Ms. Windslowe did was nothing short of deplorable and so I am thankful to the hardworking jurors who recognized that she needed to be held accountable for her actions,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I’d also like to send my condolences to the Aderotimi family and to Claudia’s friends, and to thank Assistant District Attorneys Carlos Vega and Bridget Kirn for their hard work and diligence in prosecuting this case.”

On February 7, 2011, 20-year-old Claudia Aderotimi came from England to the United States after seeing an internet posting advertising body enhancements. Ms. Aderotimi was injected in her buttocks with a needle filled with silicone by Windslowe. Shortly after the injection, she experienced chest pains as the silicone traveled through her system and into her blood stream and organs. Ms. Aderotimi died a short time later. The Medical Examiner ultimately determined that Ms. Aderotimi died as a result of a pulmonary embolism from the silicone injection.

Even after Claudia’s death, Windslowe continued to perform procedures. She injected a young Philadelphia woman, who also suffered a pulmonary embolism, with silicone. Fortunately, the Philadelphia woman survived the treatment, but she will be forced to deal with the effects of the treatment for the rest of her life.

On February 29, 2012, Windslowe was arrested in East Germantown at a “pumping party” where it’s believed she was about to perform more procedures similar to the one that killed Ms. Aderotimi.

Padge Windslowe will be sentenced on June 11, 2015 in courtroom 1107. Assistant District Attorneys Carlos Vega and Bridget Kirn successfully prosecuted this case.


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