Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category


October 19, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 19, 2015) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced that 25-year-old Antuane Brown today entered a plea of no contest to raping four girls, ages 12 to 17, in separate incidences that took place in the Germantown section of the city.

“These four young girls and their families have gone through unimaginable pain and suffering because of what Antuane Brown did to them, and today’s plea of no contest makes sure he is punished for his crimes,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “I’d like to thank the brave young women and their families for their help in building this case, the public who offered their tips and the Philadelphia Police Department for working with my office to find, arrest and prosecute the defendant.”

The incidents, which all occurred at gunpoint, occurred between March 19, 2013, and June 2, 2013

  • March 19, 2013 – A twelve-year-old girl was waiting to go to school at her bus stop when Brown, wearing a mask, approached and forced the girl into an alleyway off Price Ave. He then raped and sodomized her. Brown took the her school identification card and warned her that he would kill her and her family if she went to the police. The child ran home and her family immediately called the police.
  • April 23, 2013 – Wearing a mask at night, Brown confronted a seventeen-year-old girl at gunpoint and forced her down an alley behind an auto mechanic shop on Chelten Ave. He raped and sodomized her and threatened to kill her as she cried. He also took her identification card and warned that he would kill her if she called police. The victim ran home and her family called the police.
  • May 19, 2013 – A fifteen-year-old girl was walking on Wister St. at 10:45 p.m. when Brown approached her on a bicycle, wearing a mask and brandishing a gun. He forced her into an alley at Devon and Wister Streets where he raped her. The abduction was caught on surveillance video.
  • June 2, 2013 – A seventeen-year-old girl was walking on Chelten Ave. near Anderson St. when Brown, wearing a mask, shoved a gun into her stomach and ordered her to a field behind the nearby Loney Recreation Center. Brown then raped and sodomized the girl. Brown warned that if she screamed, he would kill her. The girl ran home and told her family who called the police.

Police publicly released a surveillance tape of the third abduction which led to several tips from the public about the rapist’s identity. On June 5, 2013, police served a search warrant at Brown’s home at 1100 E. Price St. and recovered Brown’s mask, gun and bicycle. The police also arrested Brown who was home at the time. Subsequent forensic DNA analysis of the rape kits and clothing recovered from each girl matched defendant’s DNA. All four rapes were committed within five blocks of Brown’s home.

The defendant will be sentenced on February 12, 2016, before the Hon. Donna Woelpper. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 320 years of incarceration. Assistant District Attorneys Branwen McNabb and Colleen McIntyre of the Offices’ Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit successfully prosecuted the case.



October 15, 2015

Commonwealth and defendants worked together to create agreement with hopes of raising awareness about LGBTQ tolerance and understanding

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 15, 2015) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office today announced that defendants Kevin Harrigan and Phillip Williams have accepted the terms of a plea agreement presented to them by the office after being charged with attacking a gay couple at 16th and Chancellor Sts. in Center City Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 2014. Defendant Kathryn Knott, who was also charged in the same incident, has chosen to take her case to trial.

Defendant Harrigan pled guilty to one charge of Simple Assault and one charge of Conspiracy. He was sentenced to three years of reporting probation and must pay $314 in restitution. Defendant Williams pled guilty to one charge of Aggravated Assault and one charge of Conspiracy. He was sentenced to five years of reporting probation and must pay $628 in restitution. Harrigan and Williams also agreed to perform 200 hours of community service at an LGBT organization/cause and not go into Center City Philadelphia for the duration of their probation.

“Today’s agreement is certainly about justice, but it is also about honoring the wishes of the victims to make sure they can continue to heal and gain closure,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “Defendants Harrigan and Williams have accepted their agreement, one that honors the wishes of the victims of this case, and defendant Knott has chosen to proceed to trial. I hope that all of us can learn and grow from this horrible incident and be inspired by these two courageous victims, the solidarity of the LGBTQ community and their thousands of supporters and advocates.”

Defendant Knott’s trial date has not yet been selected. She is being charged with two charges of Aggravated Assault, two charges of Simple Assault, two charges of Recklessly Endangering Another Person and Conspiracy. Assistant District Attorney Mike Barry is overseeing the prosecution of the case.


October 14, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 14, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams released the following statement on today’s announcement that Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey will retire in January of 2016:

From the first time I met the Commissioner I knew that he was something special. His insight, experience, and love of his job and the community he serves has been an inspiration to me. He has been a steadfast advisor and friend, and on a personal level, I’m fortunate to have been able to watch him in action and to witness his servant leadership style.

In addition to being incredibly accountable and embracing innovation through data based policing, Commissioner Ramsey brought calm and clarity to the challenge. Whether he was supporting the families and friends of fallen officers or interacting with the community, he showed himself as a consummate professional and a strong, caring leader.

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. On behalf of the men and women of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, I thank the Commissioner for his eight years of service and wish him the very best in the future.



October 5, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 5, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today released the following statement on the death of former NAACP President Jerry Mondesire:

The City of Philadelphia and the working men and women of our region lost a great champion and public servant yesterday. On behalf of the employees of the Office of the Philadelphia District Attorney and myself, I offer my heartfelt condolences to Jerry’s friends and his family.

I had the privilege of learning from and working with Jerry for decades and came to admire him, not just for his unending dedication to our city, but for his kindness and support. Jerry was a champion for social, racial and economic justice – a truly powerful force for good in our city’s many neighborhoods.

Personally, Jerry was like a father to me. As Chief of Staff to former Congressman Bill Gray he chaired the committee that offered me an appointment to attend West Point, and even after I left the military academy and went to Penn State, he regularly checked on me and remained a mentor. Jerry was a key adviser on my 2005 campaign for DA and was always there for advice and just to talk. Simply put, he was never shy and never sugar coated it. During my campaigns for office he would call me like clockwork at 7 a.m. to make sure I was out shaking hands. And as DA, he would reach out to remind me to always do the right thing regardless of the political consequences.

Jerry, I’ll miss you and your signature boots and Stetson and know that you and your family will be in my prayers.



September 11, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (September 11, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that the Hon. Timika Lane sentenced twenty-six-year-old Leon Watson to 114 – 228 years of incarceration. Watson was convicted by a jury of his peers on January 15, 2015, for sexually abusing five children between the ages of eight- and ten-years-old and one developmentally delayed adult.

“When Leon Watson created Little Vicks, his N. Philadelphia youth football team, and recruited children from the neighborhood, he was not trying to be a mentor and a coach. He was creating a scheme to become a sexual predator,” said R. Seth Williams, Philadelphia District Attorney. “Mr. Watson deserves every one of the 228 years that he received today, and I’d like to thank the entire team from my Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, Judge Lane and courageous victims who gave statements today for their hard work and strength.”

On November 10, 2013, the Department of Human Services (DHS) received an anonymous tip that the children living in the defendant’s home were being sexually abused. When DHS spoke to the defendant he told investigators that there were no children in the home except for a fourteen-year-old and a ten-year-old who were ordered by the defendant to provide fake names and birth dates. After a Philadelphia Police Department search of the house, officers found two additional children, an eight-year-old and his nine-year-old brother, hidden upstairs.

When interviewed, all the children and the developmentally delayed twenty-one-year old victim who helped with the team said that the defendant had been sexually abusing them for months. They also said that the defendant forced them to beg for money outside Philadelphia sporting venues for up to twelve hours a day.

Judge Lane stated the long sentence was necessary “because the defendant has demonstrated that he cannot live within the confines of a civilized society.” She noted that the “defendant not only raped each child but would often force the other boys to watch.” Addressing two of the victimized boys in court, Judge Lane told them that “this does not define your life; you are both very brave young men.

ADA Brandon Jaycox stated, “These boys showed enormous courage in not only disclosing this horrific abuse but also in facing this rapist again in court.” ADA Branwen McNabb further remarked, “Judge Lane has removed a dangerous, serial predator from our community for the rest of his life and thereby protected innumerable children who might have become his victims in the future.”



September 4, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (September 4, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that he has concluded his review of the Aug. 26, 2015, released emails and is issuing the following statement:

I’ve looked at the e-mails released, and yes, like everyone else, I could see immediately that they are offensive. They contain numerous graphic images with captions that are derogatory towards women, a few that have racist connotations, and a smaller number with negative comments about gays. As the father of three daughters, as an African-American, as a law enforcement official, I was disappointed, and angry, that these messages were considered acceptable.

As I began my review, I found that many people I talked to in the community over the last few weeks didn’t know all the facts – they assumed from press reports that hundreds of e-mails were released, and that they were generated by a small group of employees here in my office.

I take my responsibilities in this situation with gravity. The easiest reaction would have been just to fire anyone named in the press, without any inquiry. Instead I assembled my senior staff, consisting of blacks and whites, women and men, and we carried out a thorough process to make sure I got all the information necessary to make serious decisions.

In choosing what, if any, action to take, I considered my obligations. The first is to my conscience – to make the best decision possible. The second is to the citizens of Philadelphia – they deserve wise, well-reasoned actions by their elected officials, especially the chief law enforcement officer. The third is to the very hard-working women and men who seek justice every day as my colleagues in the District Attorney’s Office. Finally, I have an obligation to the subject individuals – to fair and individualized treatment.

My process had several elements. The three employees in question – Pat Blessington, Marc Costanzo, and Frank Fina – were individually interviewed by a panel. We also questioned people they worked for, people they worked with, and people who worked for them, both in the District Attorney’s Office and in the Attorney General’s Office. We reviewed all e-mail communications still available from their time in my employment. We looked at the work of the Philadelphia investigating grand jury assigned to the “sting” case, which reviewed internal documents from the current attorney general’s office relating to charges of racism, and which heard testimony from employees of the current attorney general. I personally contacted and spoke with prosecutors and other elected officials around the country, with Fortune 500 executives, and with leaders of non-profits and community groups.

We found that none of the e-mails in question were created or originated by these three employees, and none were circulated to or by them while employed in my office. The large majority of the released e-mails – there are 20 altogether – date from five to six years ago. They were part of address chains covering literally hundreds of employees in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, who received and radiated the same images in widening circles.

None of those hundreds of employees – who were colleagues of the three prosecutors now working in my office – were ever disciplined for improper e-mail activity during the years in question, either by the previous or by the present attorney general. At least one AG employee, who served as a central hub for the e-mail distributions and who continued those activities even after the current AG took office, has actually been promoted and given a substantial raise.

We found no evidence or suggestion of any inappropriate e-mail behavior by these three employees during their time to date in my office, but if we did I would certainly terminate them.

We found that the derogatory elements appearing in the attorney general e-mail chains were not reflected in the work relationships of the three specific employees who have been the focus of the attorney general’s filings. On the contrary, the employers, employees, and colleagues with whom we spoke – and who included both women and blacks – described these employees as hard-working, dedicated prosecutors who were never disrespectful to them as females or minorities.

We reviewed the findings of the Philadelphia grand jury investigating the “sting” case. Before deciding whether charges were appropriate, the grand jurors, who represent the diversity of Philadelphia’s citizens, examined public claims that the original “sting” investigation was the product of racism on the part of the prosecutors now employed in my office. The grand jurors had access to internal documents generated under the current attorney general, and heard sworn testimony from many of the individuals who were involved in the original investigation. The grand jurors concluded that allegations of racism against these prosecutors “were simply false.”

Finally, I have spoken to the employees in question myself, face to face. I believe they have regret and remorse for the conduct of which they were a part. They recognize that the e-mail chains in which they participated were demeaning, unprofessional, and wrong.

In an ordinary situation, I would not publicly discuss these matters of employee conduct, but I recognize that we are not in an ordinary situation. So, I have described our process and conclusions, but will not broach the confidentiality of internal deliberations and discussions.

Under all the circumstances, I have chosen awareness and education over termination and am directing these employees to attend sensitivity training. Insensitivity often has its genesis in unfamiliarity. That’s why diversity is so important. I have worked to make sure that my office reflects the diversity of the city we serve. We have strong human relations policies, more African-American attorneys than any law firm in the Commonwealth, and as many women as men both in the ranks and in leadership positions. In the year 2015, the times of winking at racism, sexism, or homophobia are over. On my watch, I won’t tolerate it.



August 31, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (August 31, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today issued the following statement on the hit-and-run death of Philadelphia Police Officer Lamar Poole:

On behalf of the 600 men and women of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, we extend our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Officer Lamar Poole and to the entire Philadelphia Police Department. Officer Poole’s death is the second death of a Philadelphia Police Officer by vehicle in as many weeks, which is nothing short of tragic and a powerful reminder that we all have a responsibility to be safe and respectful on our roads and highways.




August 26, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (August 26, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today issued the following statement about today’s email release for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court:

Today the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office received the court filings, exhibits (including e-mails and attachments) released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court related to litigation in the Thirty-Fifth Statewide Investigating Grand Jury. The Office has clear human relations policies, so the District Attorney believes that a thorough review is necessary of the email chains and any actions current office employees took in their distribution. We will conclude this review as soon as possible.



August 6, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (August 6, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today issued the following statement about the indictment of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane:

As DA Ferman said, this is a bad day for law enforcement; but it’s also a bright one. The affidavit asserts that members of the attorney general’s office have used surreptitious and illegal means to target other prosecutors whose official acts were perceived to harm the AG’s interests. Even the attorney general, however, is not beyond the efforts of local prosecutors, judges and grand jurors to uncover evidence of abuse of office. I’m gratified that the legal process is now proceeding on a proper course.


July 28, 2015

Philadelphia – During the course of an ongoing investigation, detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit investigated Theodore Gaines for registering a vehicle with a fraudulent financial responsibility identification card. Detectives retrieved the Penndot title history for Gaines’s 2004 Chevrolet Impala and learned that he registered the vehicle on December 12, 2011 with an Access General Insurance Company financial responsibility identification card. Detectives contacted a representative from Access General and learned that the listed policy number was not valid. Gaines was arrested on July 21, 2015 for Insurance Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy, Forgery, Tampering with Records, Securing Execution and Unsworn Falsifying. Gaines is next listed for a status hearing on August 4, 2015 in Philadelphia Municipal Court.


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