Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE LAUNCHES HATE CRIME HOTLINE AND STRENGTHENS TASK FORCE

November 16, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 16, 2017) – Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley B. Hodge today announced that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) has launched a hate crimes hotline and expanded its internal procedures and community partnerships to more effectively respond to the allegations of hate crimes in the City of Philadelphia. The Office’s hotline, which will be staffed by a Victim and Witness Services Coordinator, is 215-686-8931.

“Hate has no place in the City of Philadelphia and if someone sees it happening, or is the victim of a hate crime, we now have a hotline for them to safely file their report” said Kelley B. Hodge, Philadelphia District Attorney. “Additionally, and this is new to the Hate Crimes Task Force, these improvements will allow us to better support the citizens of this great City with more specially assigned Assistant District Attorneys, formal internal policies and procedures, and an improved partnership with Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s Office and Philadelphia’s Human Relations Commission.”

The following Assistant District Attorneys (ADA) from each geographic bureau, the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, and the Municipal Court Unit have been assigned to prosecute any hate or bias crime in their Bureau or Unit:

  • Coordinator – Salena Jones, ADA;
  • Central Bureau – Sam Haaz, ADA;
  • East Bureau – Yasmine Rosario, ADA;
  • Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit – Helen Park, ADA;
  • Juvenile Court Unit – Meghan Goddard, ADA;
  • Municipal Court Unit – Adam Geer, ADA;
  • Northeast Bureau – Leonard Champaign, ADA;
  • Northwest Bureau – Ashley Toczylowski, ADA;
  • South Bureau – Lauren Realberg, ADA; and
  • Southwest Bureau – Antima Chakraborty, ADA.

The task force will also meet on a quarterly basis, or more frequently as needed, to discuss any concerns, improvements, and cases. It will also regularly communicate and inform the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission about their work.

“Hate has no place in our Commonwealth and we’re calling on everyone to step up and report discrimination when it happens,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Every Pennsylvanian deserves equal justice under the law no matter what you look like, who you pray to, where you’re from, or who you love. The Office of Attorney General fully support District Attorney Hodge’s mission, and commends the DA’s Office for opening this hotline so we can call out hate when we see it.”

As targeted by the District Attorney and the task force, a hate crime is a criminal act (e.g. vandalism, threats, assault, and murder) that is motivated by prejudice or bias and is directed at people because of their real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, or disability.

“We cannot combat acts of hate if we remain silent. The launch of the new hate crime hotline by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office will make it much easier for anyone to speak up and report hate incidents so they can be thoroughly investigated. We are looking forward to our partnership with the enhanced task force.” said Rue Landau, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

Since the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not have a statute defining a hate crime, the Office can charge individuals under Title 18 § 2710, Ethnic Intimidation. Ethnic Intimidation is defined as any specified offense committed “…with malicious intention toward the race, color, religion or national origin of another individual or group of individuals.” Ethnic intimidation is graded one degree higher than the underlying offense.

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DISTRICT ATTORNEY HODGE ISSUES STATEMENT CONGRATULATING LARRY KRASNER ON HIS ELECTION VICTORY

November 8, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 8, 2017) – Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley B. Hodge released the following statement congratulating District Attorney Elect Larry Krasner on his November 7, 2017, general election victory:

“Congratulations to District Attorney Elect Larry Krasner on your election victory. All of us in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office stand ready to make your transition to becoming Philadelphia’s 26th District Attorney seamless.

“Leading this office is an honor and privilege. The dedicated public servants in this Office, who you will soon have the honor to work with, like you, are unflinching in their desire to give a voice to the victims of crime and making Philadelphia a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.  My time as Philadelphia’s District Attorney has been extremely rewarding. And while the work is expectedly challenging, I am sure your tenure will provide you with the same sense of purpose as a public servant and accomplishment as my tenure as given to me. Again, Congratulations and Godspeed.”

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S ELECTION FRAUD TASK FORCE AND COMMITTEE OF 70 ARE PREPARED FOR ELECTION DAY

November 2, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 3, 2017) – Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley B. Hodge and CEO of the Committee of Seventy David Thornburgh today reminded voters to get ready for Election Day and to call the District Attorney’s Election Fraud Task Force if they experience any difficulty casting their ballot. The Office’s hotline numbers are 215-686-9641, 9643 and 9644.

“On November seventh when the polls open, the Election Fraud Task Force will be fully staffed and strategically deployed through the City to quickly respond to any issues that may arise,” said Kelley B. Hodge, Philadelphia District Attorney. “If anyone has trouble casting their vote or sees something that they believe is illegal, they should immediately call the Task Force at 215-686-9641 so our Detectives and Assistant District Attorneys can look into the potential violation.”

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. The Election Fraud Task Force will also coordinate its efforts with the City Commissioners and Philadelphia’s Central Election Court to respond to any election-related concerns. As always, if the need arises, the Task Force can enlist additional ADAs on Election Day to respond to emerging issues. 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.

“We applaud the District Attorney’s Office and Election Fraud Task Force for their efforts in preparing for Tuesday’s election,” said Committee of Seventy CEO David Thornburgh. “But their oversight only works when voters and others at the polls report potentially illegal behavior. If you see something, say something.”

The Committee of Seventy will be complementing the efforts of the District Attorney and the City Commissioners with its Election Ambassador Corps of high school students who can help answer questions for voters at the polls or direct them to city officials when issues arise. Seventy is also distributing an online survey to gauge voters’ experience with the voting process and confidence in the system. Voters with questions on Election Day can reach Seventy staff at 215-557-3600.

In 2014, the Election Fraud Task Force was created 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.

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THIS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE AND OFFICE OF VICTIM ADVOCATE MAKE PROGRESS IN PROVIDING IMPORTANT SERVICES TO THE VICTIMS OF CRIME

October 25, 2017

DA Contact:   Cameron Kline, 215-686-8711, cameron.kline@phila.gov

OVA Contact: Jennifer Storm, 717-756-9741, jstorm@pa.gov

 

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 26, 2017) – To mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) and Pennsylvania’s Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) today announced that they are serving more victims of crime through a continuum of county and state services. Currently, OVA has registered 47 percent more clients this year.

“Thanks to the partnership between the District Attorney’s Office and Pennsylvania’s Office of Victim Advocate we are doing a much better job at providing important services to the victims of crime,” said Kelley Hodge, Philadelphia District Attorney. “Our partners, some of which include the Anti-Violence Partnership and Women Against Abuse, now have a direct line into our Victim Witness Services Unit and a dedicated professional from the OVA who is specially trained to help our clients get the services they need and deserve. As of today, we are currently providing post sentencing services to about 1,000 Philadelphians whose offenders have been sentenced to state prison, and we continue to focus on helping victims stay safe, make their voices heard, and begin to heal.”

The DAO and OVA credit the increase in services to the creation and co-location of a dedicated Victim Assistance Coordinator from the OVA in the DAO’s Office of Victim Witness Service Unit. The Coordinator regularly registers and submits victim testimonies and works one-on-one with the various Units in the DAO to ensure that victims are notified of their post-sentencing rights and their opportunity to participate in programs. Some program examples include, the Victim/Offender Dialogue Program, safety planning services, notifications about an offender’s parole eligibility, and their right to provide comments to the Parole Board during the parole process.

“I am thrilled with the result of this partnership already, we knew a presence in Philadelphia was necessary to ensure all crime victims fully understood their post-conviction rights. We are grateful to the DOA for collaborating with us to ensure all crime victims feel acknowledged, empowered and informed,” said Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm.

OVA’s presence in DAO also provides for increased collaboration and partnerships among the many victim service agencies in the Philadelphia community, in addition to improved communication and strategic planning between non-profit and local government agencies. Some of these agencies include neighborhood based victim serving organizations, the Anti-Violence Partnership, Women Against Abuse, Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), the CHARLES Foundation, Every Murder Is Real (EMIR), and the National Homicide Justice Alliance; among other advocacy groups. These groups recently gathered together for the first time as a working-group to collaborate on ways to improve service provision to Homicide co-victims and survivors.

Additionally, OVA has been working with the Anti-Violence Partnership and the DAO to create a support group for families and individuals who have been victimized by defendants who committed murder as a juvenile and are now facing the difficult resentencing process. OVA has worked closely with the Office to ensure that the victims of these crimes are supported during and after the process.

The OVA was established in 1995 and diligently works to provide victims of crime with notifications, support and advocacy services. This is the first collaboration of this kind and the first on site office for the OVA in a non-state entity. For more information on Office of Victim Advocate, visit their website at www.ova.pa.gov.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE NAMES NINE IN CITY-WIDE STREET GAMBLING STING

October 19, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 20, 2017) – Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley B. Hodge today announced charges against nine people associated with one of the largest illegal street lottery organizations in Philadelphia. The operation, run by Gary Creagh Sr., generated millions of dollars of illicit profits. A multi-year investigation into the operation was led by the Office’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling, which is funded by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and was aided by the Philadelphia Police Department’s Vice Squad. A Philadelphia County investigating grand jury recommended the following charges:

Gary Creagh Sr. (DOB: 6-21-51), Frank Creagh (DOB: 6-19-67), William Creagh (DOB: 4-4-68), Kerri Creagh (DOB: 2-21-67), Mark Matera (DOB: 1-6-55), John McAnaney (DOB: 7-30-33), Jabbar Curry (DOB: 5-20-60), Kenneth Athy (DOB: 3-15-41), and Carlos Santiago (DOB: 5-13-39). Each person has been charged with Corrupt Organization (F-1), Dealing in the Proceeds of Unlawful Activities (F-1), Criminal conspiracy (F-1), and Illegal Lotteries (M-1). All of the defendants have been arrested, and if convicted each defendant could receive up to 65 years of incarceration.

“The illegal Creagh organization was truly a family affair, one that generated millions of dollars from dozens of nondescript locations across the City of Philadelphia,” said Kelley B. Hodge, District Attorney. “To the men and women of the Grand Jury, thank you for your hard work on this case. To our partners in the Philadelphia Police Department and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, I am appreciative of the support and resources you brought to this investigation and I congratulate everyone who worked on this case for shutting down this elaborate and illegal street lottery organization.”

The Creagh organization, which was controlled and led by Gary Creagh, Sr., employed dozens of individuals and operated in approximately 40 locations throughout the City. The operations were highly organized and located in unmarked buildings throughout the City, typically in low-income neighborhoods. “Players” would knock on one of the unmarked storefronts and would be admitted if they were known or not perceived as a threat. Each location typically had two employees, one watching the door and the other took and processed the bets.

“The quality of this investigation, and arrests which followed, are examples of outstanding collaborative work by several law enforcement agencies. We truly appreciate all of our law enforcement partners and the work they do,” said Richard Ross, Philadelphia Police Commissioner.

“We are pleased to see the Local Law Enforcement Grants awarded by our agency used effectively to thwart illegal and unregulated gambling,” said Executive Director Kevin F. O’Toole of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

A breakdown of what each defendant did for the organization follows:

  • Gary Creagh Sr. was the owner and chief operator of the enterprise;
  • Frank Creagh, Gary Creagh Sr.’s nephew, was assigned to collect money from workers and assisted in the overall management of the operation;
  • William Creagh assisted in the maintenance and management of the organization;
  • Kerri Creagh, Gary Creagh Sr.’s daughter, assisted in the financial management of the illegal proceeds earned from the lottery and in the overall operation of the enterprise;
  • Mark Matera owned several lottery locations with Creagh, collected money from the lottery locations, and assisted in the overall maintenance and management of the enterprise; and
  • Kenneth Athy, Jabbar Curry, John McAnaney, and Carlos Santiago were employees who worked directly in picking up and delivering money to and from the locations.

All of these defendants were also tasked with maintaining the overall organization and making sure each location ran smoothly. For example, they made sure each of the locations was staffed and well supplied with office supplies; carbon betting slips; telephones; tables; chairs; and coffee makers, coffee cups, cream, sugar, and paper towels. Creagh often would pay the utilities and taxes on a number of the locations, regardless of whether he owned them or not.

To place a bet, a player would fill out a carbon bet slip with their name, numbers picked, and the amount to bet on each number. The carbon bet slips would then be separated into a white copy for the organization and a yellow copy for the player. The lottery offered several betting options for players. Some included bets based on numbers selected in Pennsylvania’s Daily Number and the Big 4 lottery drawings. Winning numbers were also chosen from designated horse races throughout the day. Players could cast bets between 10¢ and $20 depending on the game. The street lottery paid winners a greater value for winning numbers, 700 to 1, compared to the Commonwealth’s legal lottery that pays 500 to 1.

Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and officers from the Philadelphia Police Department conducted surveillance and undercover operations at numerous street lottery locations. The investigation uncovered dozens of locations where bets were placed. More than 30 locations had direct links to Gary Creagh Sr.

The Grand Jury heard extensive evidence about the assets and cash flow of the street lottery enterprise and of Gary Creagh Sr. Over a thirty month period between 2011 and 2014, for example, Creagh deposited over $3 million into his personal accounts. Many of the deposits were made in cash and extensively deposited on the same dates in different banks. None of the cash deposits exceeded $9,000, and the majority of the deposits did not exceed $5,000. Over the last several years, Creagh spent almost $500,000 on luxury vehicles and millions of dollars to purchase numerous properties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Florida, and Nevada.

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JOINT TASK FORCE MAKES $370,000 HEROIN AND FENTANYL BUST IN OXFORD CIRCLE

September 18, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 18, 2017) – Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley B. Hodge today announced the results of a successful joint investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Philadelphia Division that led to an arrest and the confiscation of approximately $370,000 in heroin and fentanyl. Frank Merehildo Rondon (DOB: 11-19-96) has been arrested and charged with Possession with the Intent to Deliver (Ungraded Felony) and Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Misdemeanor of the 1st degree). If found guilty, the defendant could face approximately 20 years in prison.

In addition to drug paraphernalia, packaging materials, and heroin stamps; officers from the joint task force seized bulk heroin and fentanyl from a property on the 1000 block of Rosalie St. in the Oxford Circle section of the City. The confiscated drugs weighed about 600 grams, which included 20 racks of heroin totaling 3060 packets.

“The poison that is contained in just a small amount of these drugs is catastrophic,” said Kelley B. Hodge, District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia. “And this bust was literally around the corner from a Philadelphia High School, so I am so very thankful to the men and women of the Office’s Dangerous Drug Offender Unit and our partners in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Division, Group 51 for taking this heroin and fentanyl off of our streets,” said Kelley B. Hodge, District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia.

“This seizure, which was the result of a joint investigation by the DEA, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and the Philadelphia Police Department, represents a substantial amount of heroin and fentanyl. The packaging and stamps, one of which was “Super O.D.,” recovered from this residence indicate that these drugs were ready to be packaged and distributed on the streets of our communities,” said Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. “In 2016, fentanyl and fentanyl related substances were responsible for 52% of the 4,642 drug overdose deaths across Pennsylvania. In the midst of the most damaging drug epidemic in our history, this seizure will undoubtedly save lives.”

Members of the task force have been conducting investigations into heroin distributors operating in Philadelphia and received information that a male was selling heroin from the Rosalie St. property. Investigators set up their surveillance operation and on numerous occasions observed Rondon meeting with individuals for drug sales. On Sept. 13, 2017, investigators obtained a search and seizure warrant for the Rosalie St. property. There were seven individuals in the residence, including Rondon, and a 10 year old child and an infant. The property was secured and Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services was notified about the child.

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KELLEY B. HODGE SWORN IN AS PHILADELPHIA’S 25TH DISTRICT ATTORNEY

July 24, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (July 24, 2017) – Kelley B. Hodge was sworn in today as the City of Philadelphia’s 25th District Attorney. Hodge, who was elected on July 20, 2017, by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas’ Board of Judges, will serve until the newly elected District Attorney takes office in 2018.

“Thank you for having the confidence in me to lead this office, an office that I have profound admiration and respect for. The Board of Judges have entrusted me with a responsibility that requires diligence, intelligence, patience and most of all humility, and I can assure you that I will work every day, as I have for my 20 years as an attorney and advocate, to deliver just that to the citizens of Philadelphia,” said Kelley B. Hodge, District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia.

“To the members of the District Attorney’s Office, it’s good to be back, and this is our restoration period. Our opportunity to look at adversity from the rear-view mirror and know you have weathered the storm. The citizens of this city deserve our best as members of the District Attorney’s office and I hope to inspire you all to always seek to do better today than you did the day before,” Hodge added.

Before her election, District Attorney Hodge was Of Counsel to Elliott Greenleaf where she developed a practice focusing on criminal, education, risk assessment, compliance, and civil rights law. Prior to joining Greenleaf, she was the Title IX Coordinator at the University of Virginia and responsible for the implementation of a new sex and gender based harassment policy in the University’s eleven schools.

Before joining the University of Virginia, Ms. Hodge was appointed by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett to serve as the Safe Schools Advocate under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. As Advocate, Hodge oversaw the reporting and response to incidents of violence in the Philadelphia Public School system. She worked closely with the First Judicial District Juvenile and Adult Courts, local law enforcement, mental and behavioral health agencies, and Philadelphia’s City Council, District Attorney’s Office, Mayor’s Office, and human relations agencies to ensure each student’s civil rights were protected.

“I would also like to thank the office’s leadership team who not only kept improving the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s policies and programs, but made sure the entire organization remained focused on justice and serving the people of Philadelphia,” said Hodge.

Ms. Hodge began practicing law in the Commonwealth of Virginia as a criminal defense attorney for the Richmond Public Defender’s Office in 1997. In 2004, she began practicing law in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. For eight years, Ms. Hodge prosecuted thousands of cases ranging from Misdemeanor Theft to Attempted Murder in the First Judicial District. She trained and managed new and seasoned Assistant District Attorneys and assisted in the creation and implementation of various diversionary programs.

In 2013, she was selected to serve on a Pennsylvania Joint State Commission on Violence Prevention in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, and in 2014 she was appointed by Governor Corbett to serve on the Interstate Compact for Juvenile Justice.

Ms. Hodge received her Juris Doctor from the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law in 1996. She is a 1993 graduate of the University of Virginia where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Foreign Affairs and in Spanish Language and Literature. She is a native of Montgomery County, PA and graduated from Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, PA. Ms. Hodge currently resides with her husband and son in the Northwest section of Philadelphia.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE RELEASES STATEMENT ON KELLEY B. HODGE BEING APPOINTED AS INTERIM DISTRICT ATTORNEY

July 21, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (July 20, 2017) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office today released the following statement on the appointment of Kelley B. Hodge as Interim District Attorney by the Court of Common Pleas Board of Judges:

“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office congratulates Interim District Attorney Hodge on her appointment. We are excited to welcome her back to the Office, and we look forward to working with her throughout her term in office.”

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE AND AMTRAK CLOSE $26,000 FRAUD CASE

July 13, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (July 13, 2017) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General today announced the arrest and prosecution of Shohana Culberson for defrauding Amtrak of more than $26,000 in illegal tickets. Culberson (DOB: 03-16-1987) was charged with Theft of Services and Criminal Conspiracy, and was terminated from Amtrak.

“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is always ready to support our fellow investigators,” said Kathleen E. Martin, Acting Philadelphia District Attorney. “After a joint investigation, we charged Shohana Culberson for illegally using her position as an Amtrak employee to acquire more than 281 tickets, totaling $26,270, between December 2014 and April 2016.”

An Amtrak Conductor in Selma, North Carolina in May of 2016, found two passengers who could not produce identification for their Employee Rail Pass tickets They were escorted off the train and consented to a search. One passenger was found to be in possession of Oxymorphone Hydrochloride, a Schedule II Drug, and the other had an outstanding arrest warrant for Trafficking Opium and Heroin from Cumberland County, North Carolina. Both individuals were arrested.

The Amtrak Police Department (APD) discovered that their tickets were created using the Amtrak Employee Rail Pass assigned to Culberson. The travelers listed on the reservation were her alleged spouse and her daughter. While Culberson told OIG investigators that she had been married since 2008; that was later discovered to not be true. After assisting in the investigation, the DAO affirmed charges for defrauding Amtrak of goods and services. An Arrest Warrant was issued for Culberson, and she later surrendered Amtrak Police at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Ultimately, Culberson received five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution to Amtrak.

“I commend the OIG staff and our partners in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office who investigated this case. It shows that area law enforcement and the Office of Inspector General are committed in preventing and detecting fraud, waste, and abuse whenever and wherever it happens,” said Tom Howard, Amtrak Inspector General.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE ISSUES STATEMENT ON THE RESIGNATION OF R. SETH WILLIAMS AS PHILADELPHIA’S DISTRICT ATTORNEY

June 29, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (June 29, 2017) – Kathleen Martin, First Assistant for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) today released the following statement on the resignation of R. Seth Williams as Philadelphia’s District Attorney:

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office embodies the phrase that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Assistant District Attorneys and professional staff of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office are among the finest in the country. Throughout this unfortunate period they continued to display the diligence, fortitude, and integrity that has historically been a hallmark of the Office. I could not be more proud of how my hardworking colleagues have conducted themselves in light of the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Williams, and now with the conclusion of this case, Philadelphians should know that their District Attorney’s Office continues the pursuit of justice and the hope for a safer city endures.

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