Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

Philadelphia District Attorney reminds Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers to have fun and be smart this season with ten simple consumer tips  

November 25, 2015


PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 25, 2015) – 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 ten simple shopping tips.

“It’s a busy time of year for shoppers and it’s a busy time for scammers and thieves, so take some time to educate and protect yourself this Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “According to, last year 62 percent of U.S. consumers didn’t take any steps to protect their privacy online, and I can’t tell you the number of times I see keys left in running cars and laptops and packages left on the front seats of parked cars. Remember, it’s not hard to protect yourself, but you have to be vigilant and smart this holiday shopping season.”

The District Attorney’s ten shopping tips include:

  1. Customer reviews are not always what they seem so take your time and do your research on multiple websites.
  2. Make sure the price you see is the price you get. Check your receipt to make sure you got the advertised discount or sale price.
  3. Keep your receipts, record your purchases and track your deliveries.
  4. 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”.
  5. Watch out for scammers posing as charities; a little investigation today can prevent a big headache tomorrow.
  6. Don’t forget to read the company’s privacy and return policies before you make your purchase.
  7. Smartphone purchases are on the rise, so if you are going to download an app make sure it is from a reputable source and read user reviews before you enter in your personal and financial information.
  8. The holiday season is busy for all of us, so be vigilant about where you put your purse and wallet, and make sure you do not let anyone see how much cash you are carrying.
  9. Lock your car doors, even if you are just going to be gone for a few minutes, and don’t leave money, phone charging cords, bags and expensive items in clear view. Put your purchases and valuables in the trunk.
  10. Read your bank and credit card statements thoroughly, especially December’s and January’s.

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.


November 24, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 24, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that Angel L. Flores will be the office’s new Deputy for the Juvenile Division. Flores was most recently the office’s Bureau Chief for the East Division. He is filling the position vacated by George D. Mosee who is now the office’s First Assistant District Attorney.

“ADA Flores has about fourteen years of experience working and supervising Assistant District Attorneys in our Juvenile Unit. Then he made amazing progress as the Chief of our East Division in terms of taking care of his team, preventing and prosecuting crimes, and building strong relationships in the community,” said Seth Williams.  “ADA Flores has always believed that effective prosecutions don’t happen in a vacuum, and we need strong crime prevention goals, which is why he will be able to use his vast experience to reduce truancy, prevent our youth from entering into the juvenile justice system and, once they are there, get them the help they need so they don’t reoffend.”

“I’m honored that District Attorney Williams has appointed me to be the next Deputy of the Juvenile Division. I look forward to returning to the division where I spent fifteen of my twenty-four years as a prosecutor. I also look forward to continuing the great work of First Assistant George Mosee, who has been a mentor and dear friend to me,” said Angel Flores. “And to my fellow ADAs who work so hard every day in the East Division and to my many friends in the community, from Feltonville to Harrowgate and from Kensington to Franklinville, don’t worry – I’ll still be working with you to make our communities safe and secure.”

The Juvenile Unit is made up of the Child Support Enforcement, Habitual Offender, Juvenile Court, Juvenile Diversion and the Youth Violence Reduction Partnership Units.

Angel Flores has been an Assistant District Attorney in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office since 1991. Since 2010, he has been the Bureau Chief for the East Division and was responsible for the prosecution of all crimes, except homicides and sexual assaults, committed in the 24th, 25th and 26th Police Districts.  In addition to serving as the Chief Assistant District Attorney in the Juvenile Unit, he has been assigned to the Habitual Offenders Unit and the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, where he prosecuted rape and child abuse cases.

Mr. Flores earned his law degree in 1991 from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law and his B.B.A. with honors from Temple University in 1988.  Among the numerous awards he has received, he was honored by the Temple University LALSA Life Time Mentor Award in 1999, Center City District 2010 “Award in Excellence in Crime Prevention” and the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of Philadelphia (Concilio) with the 2011 “Citizen of the Year” award. He has been married to Iris Santiago-Flores for 23 years, has three children and his appointment is effective immediately.


November 23, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 23, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that George D. Mosee, Jr. has been promoted to be the office’s new First Assistant District Attorney and Kathleen Martin will assume the newly created position of Chief of Staff, General Counsel and Chief Integrity Officer.
“It is a pleasure to make today’s announcement because all of us here at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office want to be effective and do our jobs with the highest levels of service that we can provide. We also want to be the best team that we can for the people of Philadelphia,” said Seth Williams. “I have full confidence in George Mosee and I am excited to have him in the role as my First Assistant District Attorney because George is a well-respected prosecutor and someone who has dedicated his career to this office.”
“It’s humbling to be asked to serve as the First Assistant District Attorney and so I am going to do all I can to help District Attorney Williams with his ongoing reforms and initiatives to make this office the very best it can be,” added George Mosee. “My family and I love this city and so as a prosecutor and a Philadelphian I’m always ready to make Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and streets safer.”
Since 2002, Mosee has been serving as the Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Juvenile Division of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. The Juvenile Division includes the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program, Juvenile Prosecution Unit, Habitual Offender Unit, Child Support Unit and Youth Aid Panels. Deputy Mosee joined the office in 1988 and served in various units including Motions, Major Trials, Federal Alternatives to State Trials as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, Asset Forfeiture as Chief, and Chief of the Dangerous Drug Offender Unit. From 1995 to 2002, Mr. Mosee was the Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Narcotics Division.
“Kathleen Martin will be my new Chief of Staff, General Counsel and Chief Integrity Officer,” said Seth Williams. “Ms. Martin brings experience in Pennsylvania criminal law as well as a deep knowledge of the history and unique facets of Philadelphia courts and criminal practice. I am very proud of the work we have accomplished in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office so far and am excited about the opportunity to strengthen the office and to help the 600 men and women of the office make a difference in our city.”
Chief of Staff Kathleen Martin added, “District Attorney Seth Williams has an incredible reputation of being an accomplished prosecutor who isn’t afraid to take on crime and corruption regardless of where the facts may lead him. I am looking forward to working with District Attorney Williams and the office’s highly skilled group of prosecutors and professionals to make this office even more effective moving
Ms. Kathleen Martin is a 1992 graduate of Temple University School of Law and a 1989 graduate of Villanova University. For much of her twenty-three year career, she has practiced criminal law in the state and federal courts in Philadelphia where she developed a reputation as a fierce litigator who is respected by judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys alike. Martin’s attention to detail and ability to quickly synthesize information will be enormous assets to District Attorney Williams and the office.
Most recently, Ms. Martin was appointed as an Assistant District Attorney in Pike County, Pennsylvania where she represented the Commonwealth in cases ranging from murder to distribution of narcotics. In 2014, she assisted the Pennsylvania State Police and other law enforcement agencies during the month long manhunt for Eric Frein after the tragic assassination of Corporal Bryon Dickson and wounding of Trooper Alex Douglas at the Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania State Police Barracks.
On the personal side, in 2013, Ms. Martin fulfilled a lifelong goal of traveling to Africa spending extensive time in countries including South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and India. The highlight of the trip was visiting the village in Ethiopia that was the birthplace of one of her sons. Following her visit to her son’s village, Ms. Martin and her husband established a foundation that they hope will, for the first time in the village’s history, provide some of its residents with secondary education and a pathway out of subsistence living.
“Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank former First Assistant Ed McCann for his many years of service and friendship,” said Seth Williams. “Ed was instrumental in helping the office institute many of the reforms of which we are all proud of and spent twenty-six years in this office as a trusted advisor and terrific prosecutor. The City of Philadelphia is a safer place because of the extraordinary service, hard work and commitment of Ed McCann.”
McCann submitted his letter of resignation today, and all three changes are effective immediately.


November 23, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 23, 2015) – District Attorney Seth Williams and numerous other office supervisors and staff; including Frank Fina, Marc Costanza and Patrick Blessington attended a full day training seminar given by renown lecturer, author and President & CEO of Legacy Business Cultures, Paul Meshanko on Friday.

The training seminar was provided by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and was entitled “Connecting with Respect.” This training is considered the gold standard for all prosecutors and is extremely effective at helping to establish a culture at the top of any organization where respect and workplace civility are the primary focus.

Steven Jansen, the Chief Operating Officer of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys said, “We applaud District Attorney Williams’ leadership in bringing this training to his office and continuing to reinforce the ‘Respect’ training on Friday.”

Mr. Meshanko was impressed by the way District Attorney Williams and his team were involved during the training. He made the following observations:

“The entire team, including those involved with the recently publicized email issues, were extremely engaged and participative during Friday’s session.

“By exploring how blind spots, stereotypes and biases can lead to inappropriate actions and behaviors, both consciously and unconsciously, I believe the entire group is now much more aware of steps they can take to minimize the degree to which subtle demonstrations of sexism, racism and/or homophobia can taint the otherwise outstanding work done by your office.

“Nobody is perfect all the time. By working on individual action plans for behavior change, I think your team members have also demonstrated a great deal of personal accountability for owning their own improvement efforts.

“The Code of Cooperation exercise completed at the end of the day sets a very high standard for the expectations that the team members will hold one another accountable for going forward.

“You have a very strong, capable team. My professional opinion is that past issues have been effectively dealt with and that everyone is emerging with a greater level of personal awareness and resolve to do better in the future. While keeping in mind the important lessons learned, it’s time to move on and tackle the more pressing issues and work your office is performing for the City of Philadelphia.”

District Attorney Seth Williams praised the training, “The training was excellent and I know our entire office benefited from the instruction that was provided. Influencing culture in our office starts at the top and I plan to continue this type of training in the future.

“As it relates to Frank Fina, Mark Constanza and Patrick Blessington, I know that they found this training seminar as instructional and helpful as I did. Frank, Mark and Patrick are great prosecutors who clearly made a big mistake. They have learned from their mistakes. This training along with continued reinforcement and supervision will allow us to move the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office forward and do what we do best – work to make the city a safer and more honest place to live, work and raise a family.”



November 17, 2015

Conference focuses on making communities safer through community-based prosecution

PHILADELPHIA (November 17, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today continued to participate in The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys’ (APA) 10th Anniversary National Prosecution Summit. The theme of this year’s event, which is held in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice, is community-based prosecution. The summit will conclude tomorrow with sessions at the White House.

“I’m very proud to be able to join my fellow prosecutors from cities across the nation; Los Angeles, Manhattan, Portland, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver and others; to find ways to be better community-based prosecutors,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “Keeping the needs of the community is first and foremost, and we are doing that in Philadelphia, so it was nice to be able to present our successes and what we are learning to the entire summit during the first session: New Approaches and Emerging Challenges.”

APA is a national 501(c)(3) that is headquartered in Washington D.C. and made up of elected and appointed prosecuting attorneys from across the nation. The organization provides training and technical assistance to prosecutors in order to develop proactive and innovative prosecutorial crime prevention, equal justice and safe community practices. Additionally, the APA serves as an advocate for prosecutors on the key issues prosecutor partnerships and justice administration.

“For ten years, this program has brought together prosecutors and other law enforcement partners looking for smarter, more effective strategies to reduce crime and strengthen links between the criminal justice system and the community,” said APA Vice-President and COO Steven Jansen. “Through a wide range of justice training programs, prosecutors leave this yearly conference better equipped to ensure justice for victims and that the guilty are held accountable.”

The 2015 program features an accomplished group of experts including: Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; Denise O’Donnell, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance; and Roy Austin, Deputy Assistant to the President.



November 12, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (November 12, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today issued the following statement in response to Philadelphia City Councilwomen and NOW press conference:

“While I appreciate and understand the concerns of the city councilwomen and NOW over the content of the emails, I have reviewed this matter and the individuals involved have been disciplined. Additionally, I have reached out to NOW on multiple occasions to sit down and discuss this matter in greater detail and to date they have refused.

“I agree that the material in question was offensive, but I would remind everyone involved that this behavior never took place in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. My office has remained fully committed to doing the important work of making Philadelphia streets safer every day.”



November 11, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (November 11, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today issued the following statement in response to Mayor Elect Jim Kenny’s announcement that First Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross will become Philadelphia’s next Police Commissioner:

“I can think of no better officer to take the reins of the Philadelphia Police Department than First Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross. Mayor Elect Kenny, you made the right choice.

“First Deputy Commissioner Ross, who is a fellow Nittany Lion and Central High School graduate, has stood with and supported this office from key investigations to improving community outreach and from helping our young people stay in school to finding ways to do our collective jobs better since before I became the District Attorney. I’ve come to rely on his advice and will continue to benefit from his experience and energy.

“And, like I said when Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced his retirement, the City of Philadelphia, its law enforcement community and its citizens are safer and better off today because of the courage and leadership of Commissioner Charles Ramsey. Thank you Commissioner Ramsey for your service, and soon to be Commissioner Ross, the men and women of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office look forward to continuing to work with you.”



November 2, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 2, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today reminded voters 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. And, while joined by President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy David Thornburgh, he reminded all Philadelphians that they need to vote tomorrow.

“When the polls open tomorrow my Election Day Fraud Task Force will be ready to answer your calls, so we want to hear from you,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “And, thanks to the hard work and dedication of The Committee of Seventy and the men and women of the Election Fraud Task Force, I’m hopeful that we will have a smooth election as Philadelphians head to the polls to elect our next mayor, city council and judges.”

The Task Force has more than 60 Assistant District Attorneys and several dozen Detectives who are available to address any Election Day concerns. Typically, the Task Force is asked to respond to allegations of illegal voting, candidate write in issues, refusal of election boards to recognize poll watcher certificates and illegal electioneering.

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.

“There’s nothing more important in our democracy than voters’ confidence in the integrity of the election process,” said Committee of Seventy CEO David Thornburgh. “The continued vigilance of the DA’s office in responding to complaints is critical to sustaining that confidence.”

The Committee of Seventy will be complementing the efforts of the District Attorney and the City Commissioners with its 1-855-SEVENTY Election Hotline and 300 high school students assisting voters at the polls as Election Ambassador Corps members. Seventy will also be distributing an online voter survey to gauge voters’ experience with the voting process and confidence in the system.

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 Assistant District Attorneys and Detectives. The DAO will also issue Election Day updates via its Twitter account while the polls are open.



October 26, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 26, 2015) – In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today shared the success of the city’s Domestic Violence Diversion Court (DV Court) which has now been aiding Philadelphians for the last 20 months. To date, the program has helped approximately 225 participants successfully complete the program.

The DV Court’s success is due to its holistic offender focused approach and a unique partnership between the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO), First Judicial District of Philadelphia and domestic violence prevention professionals.

“A domestic violence program had been in existence for about a decade in Philadelphia, but advocates, staff and I wanted it to do more when it came to monitoring, effective case management and addressing the underlying issues that cause an offender’s acts of domestic violence,” said Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams. “So, in 2011, all of the partners came together to rebuild the program to make it accountable and offender focused. In 2014, after much research and preparation, the program was launched.”

The DV Court is overseen by Assistant District Attorney Marian Braccia in the DAO and President Judge Marsha Neifield of the Philadelphia Municipal Court for consistency and accountability. The Defender Association of Philadelphia also has an attorney dedicated to staffing the DV Court and representing its clients; which is an effort to monitor participants more closely and consistently to ensure a more personalized approach to their treatment supervision needs. Eligible candidates are first time domestic violence offenders charged with a misdemeanor where no weapon was used and no serious injury or sexual abuse was inflected.

The treatment component is delivered by licensed therapists who are specially trained to target the problem of domestic abuse and reduce the chances that the participant will re-offend by addressing the underlying causes of his or her violence. Some examples include drug abuse, mental illness and their prior experiences of abuse. About 230 offenders have already gone through the program. Those who successfully complete the terms of their program and incur no new arrests one year after they graduate, can file to have their record expunged.

“Domestic violence has a devastating impact on hundreds of families in Philadelphia every year. With its focus on diversion and counseling as an alternative to incarceration, Domestic Violence Court is an innovative and proactive initiative to keep families together with the necessary counseling and support services, while reducing our prison population,” added President Judge Marsha Neifield. “With our attention to both the defendants and the survivors involved with domestic violence, we have taken a holistic approach to tackling this concern by treating the root causes of this problem, including teaching the skills necessary to develop and maintain healthy relationships. Our court coordinator as well as the relationships with PHMC and all social service agencies have been invaluable resources, which have contributed to the success of the program.”

Another purpose behind the DV Court is to increase victim safety by eliminating violence in intimate and familial relationships. The DV Court holds offenders accountable for their behavior by stipulating treatments that introduce them to new skills as the program closely monitors their behavior in order to avoid a criminal conviction.

“From the viewpoint of a treatment program, we’re delighted to partner with the DV Court. The court and everyone involved are certainly concerned with enforcing the law, but we are also very concerned about what is going in the lives of the people we are working with; especially when it comes to safety and treatment,” said Tony Lapp, LCSW, Associate Director of Menergy. “As a community we want people to be able to ask for help when they need it, but sometimes the impetus for change is a crisis. If a person behaves badly, but is genuinely remorseful and committed to acting better in the future, DV Court can be an opportunity to do something more than just having a person simply suffer through an incident’s consequences.”

In addition to Menergy, Inc., who handles the majority of DV Court’s cases for intimate partner offenders, the Public Health Management Corporation, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral and Intellectual Disabilities Services, Men’s Resource Center and Joseph J. Peters Institute also provide services.

Domestic violence impacts families of every race, geography and economic status. In the U.S., one in four women and one in seven men experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. Two to four million women are physically abused each year. In Philadelphia, the police department receives more than 100,000 reports of domestic violence each year and about 2,000 people go to Philadelphia’s emergency rooms because of a domestic violence assault annually.

The DAO’s Pre-Trial Division, which houses the Domestic Violence Diversion Court, is made up of several units that include the Charging Unit, Diversion Courts Unit, Pre-Trial Unit and Private Criminal Complaints Unit. Together, these units form a continuum that holds non-violent offenders accountable for their actions while providing them with help to prevent future crime through supervision and treatment services. Annually the office diverts about 40 percent of its misdemeanor cases to significantly reduce the court’s yearly caseload.



October 19, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 19, 2015) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office today announced that Griffin Campbell has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of six counts of Involuntary Manslaughter, 13 counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, one count of Causing a Catastrophe and one count of Aggravated Assault for his role in the June 5, 2013, collapse of the Market St. Salvation Army Building.

“No verdict can replace the lives that were lost on that June morning, but I hope today’s verdict brings more closure and healing to the friends and families of those who were injured and lost their lives,” said Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams. “On behalf of the men and women of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, we offer our heartfelt condolences with the hopes that today’s verdict will be a powerful reminder that jobsite safety is paramount and if someone breaks the law like Griffin Campbell and Sean Benschop did, they will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Campbell was responsible for the demolition of the property that was located at 2140 Market St. In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations at the site, Campbell put in place a demolition plan that left a four-story masonry wall unsupported above the Salvation Army Building.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 8, 2016.

“This was a very complicated and unique case that was full of expert testimony, engineering concepts and powerful witness testimony. I’d like to thank the grand jury, today’s jury and all of the staff for working so hard on the case. Additionally, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Selber who is the Chief of our Homicide Unit and Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron who is the Assistant Chief of our Homicide Unit deserve special congratulations for leading our prosecution team today – great job,” added Williams.

In July, Sean Benschop plead guilty to six counts of Involuntary Manslaughter and the additional charges of Aggravated Assault, Conspiracy, Causing a Catastrophe and thirteen Counts of Reckless Endangerment. He could be sentenced to a maximum of 10-20 years in prison on October 23, 2015.

Benschop was the operator of an excavator that was used to demolish the building next to the Salvation Army building when it collapsed killing Juanita Harmon, Roseline Conteh, Mary Simpson, Kimberly Finnegan, Anne Bryan and Borbor Davis. Mariya Plekan suffered serious and permanent injury.



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