Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category


June 3, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (June 3, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today released the following statement about the specialized protocol the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) is using to review approximately 300 juvenile life sentence cases as ordered by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in Miller vs. Alabama and Montgomery vs. Louisiana.

As the independently elected District Attorney of the City of Philadelphia, my job is to fairly apply the law. The Supreme Court of the United States issued their ruling earlier this year, and so today, I’m happy to share the protocol my team and I are using to review these cases.

Other states and counties across the U.S. are looking to Philadelphia to see what we are doing. Our plan meets the Supreme Court’s ruling and takes into consideration public safety, the defendant’s rights, and the services and supports they may need once released; all while respecting the victims and their families. As a policy matter, I recognize that the Court’s ruling emphasized the characteristics of youth and the need for individualized sentences for defendants, based on their age, with minimum and maximum sentences.

We began working on our plan on January 25th, the day Montgomery was decided, and we are going to use the new sentencing structure, applied retroactively as we take into account the age of the defendant at the time of the murder, to provide hope and a light at the end of the tunnel for these individuals who have been serving sentences, many decades-long, of life without the possibility of parole.

The first two cases are in court today, and so I’m thankful for the judges and defense attorneys who are working hard at this difficult task. Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel for his progressive approach to help prepare these individuals for release. And to all of our partners: The City of Philadelphia, First Judicial District, PA Board of Probation and Parole, PA Department of Corrections, and the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

Resentencing Protocol

The following step-by-step overview details the process that will be used by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) to review the sentences of the approximately 300 life sentence cases as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller vs. Alabama and Montgomery vs. Louisiana. The protocol was created by the DAO. The entire review process could take approximately three years.

  • Step 1: Beginning with the oldest cases, order the archived case file and verify the defendant’s eligibility for review by looking at his/her age at the time of the crime, role played in the case, sentence received, and if there are other concurrent or consecutive sentences. If the defendant does not meet the age requirements or has a concurrent or consecutive sentence he/she will not be eligible for resentencing.
  • Step 2: If the defendant is found eligible, their file will be saved in the DAO’s case management database.
  • Step 3: The DAO will order and review the defendant’s FBI Extract and PA Department of Corrections’ Prison Adjustment History. These documents will be used to verify that the defendant does not have a conviction in another state or in the Federal system. Additionally, the Office will review the defendant’s conduct in prison as provided by the Department of Corrections.
  • Step 4: The DAO will contact the victim’s family to explain the new law and the DAO’s review process. Family members will also be told about their right to attend court proceedings and to submit a victim impact statement.
  • Step 5: Examine all the relevant facts from all sources, including the victim’s family, and determine a fair and appropriate sentence.
  • Step 6: Contact the defendant’s counsel to negotiate a new sentence for the defendant. If there is an agreement, the case will be scheduled for a resentencing hearing before a homicide judge in the Court of Common Pleas. In court, the DAO will recommend a new sentence using the Commonwealth’s current sentencing statute (18 Pa.C.S.A. 1102) as its guide. If there is no negotiation, the case will be scheduled with the First Judicial District.
  • Step 7: After the court implements a new sentence, the PA Board of Probation and Parole will make any further determinations regarding parole and or release.


May 11, 2016

Drug return boxes are anonymous, secure and help prevent prescription drug and heroin abuse

PHILADELPHIA (May 11, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced the expansion of the Office’s prescription drug drop off pilot program into seven new Philadelphia Police Districts. The drop off locations allow anyone to safely and anonymously dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.

“Since January of this year, when we launched the pilot program, we have collected about 200 pounds of unwanted and unneeded prescription drugs,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “These secure drop off boxes are certainly a benefit the public and the environment. For example, they keep medications out of our water supply. But more importantly, since the abuse of prescription medications often leads to opiate and heroin abuse, these drop off boxes will save lives.”

The pilot program began with boxes in the 1st, 15th, 19th, 22nd, 25th and 35th police districts. Today, the program is being expanded into the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 14th and 26th police districts; eventually the pilot will be expanded into every Police District throughout the City.

“We appreciate the ongoing effort in creating options for residents to safely dispose of prescription drugs, to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. We will continue to work together to address this issue,” added Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

Philadelphia has the highest rate of drug overdoses in Pennsylvania, nearly 42 people per 100,000. There were more than 650 overdose deaths in Philadelphia in 2014. Of those, approximately 370 had prescription opioids in their system and more than half had heroin in their system.

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) will house the boxes and Philadelphia District Attorney (DAO) County Detectives will collect the medications and transport them to Covanta, which is located in Conshohocken, where they will be burned at no cost. The boxes were made available to the DAO through a grant from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.



April 20, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (April 20, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that his Election Fraud Task Force is ready for April 26, Primary Election Day, and Philadelphian’s should call 215-686-9641, 9643 or 9644 if they experience any difficulty casting their ballot.

“It is always busy at the polls on presidential primary day so voters should make sure they check their registration and know the location of their polling place before they head out to vote,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “And, as always, if someone sees a violation or experiences any difficulty in casting their ballot they should reach out to the Election Fraud Task Force so we can protect each Philadelphian’s right to vote; and we do protect the City’s voting processes. For example, last year we charged nine people with various voting violations.”

The Task Force has more than 60 Assistant District Attorneys (ADA) and several dozen Detectives who are available to address any Election Day concerns. The Office also has two ADAs specially assigned to support the Committee of Seventy’s Election Day activities. 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.

“We’re looking forward to a vibrant Election Day with high turnout,” said Committee of Seventy CEO David Thornburgh. “But the excitement and high stakes also mean that all of us must work that much harder to assure each voter the right to vote independently, privately and free from intimidation or harassment.”

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.

“Seventy is pleased to see the District Attorney’s Office continue its Election Task Force, and we urge voters, poll workers and campaign volunteers to immediately report possible election law violations to the DA’s hotline. For questions about the election or voting procedures, voters can visit or call Seventy at 1-855-SEVENTY,” added Thornburgh.

Seventy will also be deploying more than 400 high school student Election Ambassadors to polling places around the city to help answer voters’ questions, as well as encouraging all voters to fill out an online survey to share and document their experience at the polls.

In 2014, DA 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.

Philadelphia DA and PHILADELPHIA COALITION FOR VICTIM ADVOCACY honor U.S. Sen. Toomey and dedicated PUBLIC Servants during National Crime Victim’s Rights Week

April 19, 2016

Annual luncheon celebrates awardees for their service to crime victims and witnesses

PHILADELPHIA (April 15, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams and the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy (PCVA) today held their annual luncheon and award ceremony in commemoration of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week (NCVRW). U.S. Senator Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania received the Legislative Award for his successful fight to release billions of dollars to the nation’s victim services providers from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fund. Money in this fund, solely sourced by fines paid by federal offenders, had been sitting for years in a federal account and not serving its congressional purpose – assisting crime victims.

“Senator Toomey, thank you for championing the legislation that kept the Victims of Crime Act funds properly flowing to our victim serving agencies and for doing all that you do to protect our youth who are the victims of crime,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I am also proud to give a special congratulations to ADA Andrew Notaristefano for his consistent drive for excellence and unending professionalism in the courtroom. Andrew’s tireless efforts to help victims in this City is truly admirable. To Senator Toomey, ADA Notaristefano and to all of today’s awardees, you have my thanks and unending gratitude for what you have done.”

 In addition to releasing billions of dollars to the VOCA Fund, Sen. Toomey introduced the Fairness for Crime Victims Act, which will make his reforms to the VOCA Fund permanent, and introduced legislation, which became law in 2015, that makes it illegal for school districts to assist known pedophiles in obtaining a job. He also fought to increase prison terms and penalties for human trafficking, child pornography, child prostitution and sexual exploitation of children. The other public servants honored at the ceremony were:

Andrew Notaristefano, Assistant District Attorney – Lynne Abraham Prosecutor Award – was recognized for his work in the courtroom and beyond. His passion for helping others, he received a previous Lynne Abraham Award after graduating law school in 2006, drives him. ADA Notaristefano tried and convicted Margarita Garabito of First Degree Murder for torturing her 10-year-old step-daughter to death and tried and convicted Rudolph McGriff, one of the City’s most notorious mass murders, of First Degree Murder last year. To date, ADA Notaristefano has received 32 murder convictions by trial in the last four years.

Jamie Manirakiza, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking for the Salvation Army – Catherine Bachrach Victim Advocate Award – is a tireless advocate in the fight against human trafficking in the City of Philadelphia. Manirakiza has dedicated her life to working with traumatized women involved in the commercial sex industry at the New Day Drop-in Center for Women in Kensington. She often accompanies victims to Family Court and teaches an introductory Women’s Studies course at Eastern University that concentrates on sex trafficking.

Dr. Mariza DiGiorgio McColgan, M.D., MSEd, FAAP – Health Care Professional Award – spearheaded several advocacy projects including the Children’s and Mom’s Project (CAMP), a successful pediatric domestic violence screening project, and the Family Safe Zone project, a pilot program to increase community protections to prevent child maltreatment. Dr. DiGiorgio McColgan is the Medical Director of the Child Protection Program at Philadelphia’s St. Christopher Hospital for Children; an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Drexel University’s College of Medicine; and a Founding Advisor, Board Chair and Pediatric Advisor of Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania.

Lynn Shiner, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (retired) – Special Recognition Award & Voice of the Victim – was celebrated for the 21 years of passion she brought to helping the victims of crime. Shiner began working for the Commission after she experienced a tragedy of her own, her two young children were murdered on Christmas Day in 1994. Shiner is also an award-winning author and was presented with the National Crime Victim Service Award by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. In 2014, she was presented with the Visionary Voice Award by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

PCVA, which is dedicated to promoting the rights of and advocating for crime victims, began in 1980 as the Philadelphia Crime and the Elderly Coalition. The Organization changed their name to the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy in 1983 to better reflect the people they serve. 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.


April 14, 2016

Charges range from Gun Violations to Aggravated Assault to Homicide

PHILADELPHIA (April 14, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that after an investigation by the Gun Violence Task Force and a review by the Investigating Grand Jury, he is charging 15 area gang members with charges that include Homicide, Firearms Violations, Aggravated Assault and Conspiracy for their role in a violent, ongoing feud and gun battle that occurred in North Philadelphia between February and June of 2014.

“Members of a group who identify themselves as ‘TNT’ have terrorized the citizens of North Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, literally having gun battles right outside their front doors, for months,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “I am committed to protecting and saving lives, especially young black men, and the citizens of Philadelphia should not be afraid to let their children play outside because of gun violence. We deserve safety in our streets and so I am grateful to the members of the Grand Jury, the Assistant District Attorneys in my Office, Agents from the Gun Violence Task Force and the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide, Criminal Intelligence and Firearm Identification Units for their investigation.”

Beginning in February of 2014, members of the Tenth and Thompson Streets gang (TNT) began a violent feud with another rival organization. The fifteen members of TNT self-identify through their social media accounts, tattoos and clothing. TNT engaged in the following thirteen incidents of criminal activity; nine were shootings resulting in the seizure of ten illegal firearms:

  • Shooting at the One Tre Bar located at 13th and Cambria Sts. on February 15, 2014, at 1:26 a.m.;
  • Three arrests for firearm violations at 13th and Lehigh Sts. on February 17, 2014, at 11:36 p.m. three weapons were recovered;
  • Shooting at 2800 N. Park Ave. on February 19, 2014, at 12:30 a.m. seven fired cartridge casings and three bullets were recovered;
  • Shooting at 2700 Park Ave. on February 19, 2014 at 6:21 p.m. twenty-six fired cartridge casings from three different firearms were recovered;
  • Shooting at 18th and Ridge Ave. on February 27, 2014, at 5:40 p.m. eight fired cartridge casings from two guns;
  • Shooting at 900 W. Thompson St. on March 1, 2014, at 11:09 p.m. where twenty-four fired cartridge casings were recovered from four different handguns;
  • Shooting at 2900 N. 13th on March 6, 2014, at 11:56 p.m. two firearms were recovered and thirty-three fired cartridge casings from a total of four different firearms;
  • Shooting at 1124 W. Stiles St. at 7:40 p.m. followed by a firearm arrest at 1200 N. 11th on March 20, 2014, at 9:30 p.m.;
  • Firearm recovered at 1228 N. 10th on April 1, 2014, at 7:19 p.m.;
  • One arrest for firearm violations at 1013 Seybert Mall on April 13, 2014, at 11:21 p.m. one weapon was recovered which matches the ballistics from the shooting on February 27, 2014;
  • One arrest for firearm violations at 1200 Hutchinson St. on May 14, 2014, at 9:38 p.m. two weapons were recovered;
  • Shooting at 1300 W. Cambria St. on May 27, 2014, at 2:09 a.m. fourteen fired cartridge casings were recovered all from one firearm; and
  • One killed in a Homicide outside the Galaxy Bar located at Germantown and Rising Sun Aves. on June 22, 2014, at 1:33 a.m.

A full list of the 15 charged includes:

Criminal Conspiracy

Samir Akines (DOB: 10/29/1984), Amir Crippen (DOB: 7/23/1994), Kareem Grant (DOB: 10/23/1990), Rashad Hall (DOB: 1/24/1995), Vincent McClenney (DOB: 2/9/1988), Gregory Nash (DOB: 9/15/1988), Tyreese Scott (DOB: 5/22/1987), Ali Williams (DOB: 2/5/1987) and Hamin Williams, Sr. (DOB: 5/10/1978)

Criminal Conspiracy, Murder, Possession of a Firearm Prohibited, Carrying a Firearm Without a License, Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia and Possession of an Instrument of Crime

Rashad Holcomb (DOB: 9/2/1988)

Criminal Conspiracy and Murder

Curshawn Banks (DOB: 8/3/1989) and Evette Brooks (DOB: 7/14/1981)

Criminal Conspiracy, Attempted Murder, Aggravated Assault, Carrying a Firearm Without a License, Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia and Possession of an instrument of Crime

Maurice Muldrow (DOB: 9/14/1989)

Criminal Conspiracy, Possession of a Firearm Prohibited, Carrying a Firearm Without a License and Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia

Christopher McClutchen (DOB: 3/13/1993) and Hamin Williams, Jr. (DOB: 10/17/1996)

Today, all 15 defendants are in custody and will appear in court for their Preliminary Hearing.


April 4, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (April 4, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams today announced that after a thorough investigation of the fight that took place at the Recess Lounge (125 S. 2nd St.) on Feb. 7, 2016, there is not enough evidence to meet the legal threshold to issue charges.

“For the past several weeks my office has worked diligently with Philadelphia Police Department’s Central Detectives to investigate this matter and, in the end, there is insufficient evidence to prove that any individual committed a criminal offense,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “My job is not to decide if anyone acted appropriately or not. My job is to determine if evidence exists to charge any individual with a crime. I do that by looking at all the facts. That is what we did here. My decision today is consistent with my commitment to the citizens of Philadelphia to charge, and only charge, those people who, based on evidence, are guilty of crimes.”

Looking at the events and the actions of all parties on Feb. 7 2016, there is insufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, who started the fight and under what circumstances. In order to gain a conviction against any individual, the District Attorney’s Office would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any actions taken were not in self-defense or in the defense of another.

The law allows a person to legally defend himself or herself if he or she believes that force is immediately necessary to protect against the use of unlawful force against themselves. The law also says that a person is legally entitled to use force to protect another person if he or she believes that force is immediately necessary to protect someone from being injured by the use of unlawful force. While it is clear that a physical altercation took place, there is insufficient credible evidence to determine which of the participants was the initial aggressor or whether some participants were acting in self-defense or in the reasonable defense of another.

The combined investigation of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and Philadelphia Police Detectives in the Recess Lounge incident was extensive. Over a nine week period, Assistant District Attorneys and Central Detectives built a comprehensive timeline of the events leading up to and following the Recess Lounge incident. They also conducted 44 interviews speaking with a total of 27 individuals, made a site visit, examined the medical records of multiple participants, and reviewed photographs and video surveillance footage.

The following findings of the investigation were material to the District Attorney’s decision not to file charges:

  • Only two interviewed individuals gave any information about how the physical contact initiated and both of those versions were in direct conflict with another;
  • Each participant affirmatively declined to make a report when asked by uniformed police officers outside the club immediately after the incident;
  • Each injured participant declined medical attention outside the club and later sought medical attention at hospitals far from the incident; and
  • In numerous statements to police and Assistant District Attorneys, multiple participants misidentified who was present and participated in the fight.

The totality of the information yielded by this comprehensive investigation supports the District Attorney’s decision not to file charges.


March 18, 2016

Receives sentence of 11.5 to 23 months, $900,000 restitution and 20 years of probation

PHILADELPHIA (March 18, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that Hubert Hendricks (DOB: 5/16/64) has pled guilty to Welfare Fraud (F3), Conspiracy (F2), Theft by Deception (F3), Forgery (F2) and Tampering with Public Records or Information (F3). He will serve a sentence of 11.5 to 23 months in jail followed by 20 years of probation and pay $900,000 in restitution to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Hendricks, who is a felon, was never eligible to run his childcare facilities or collect more than $9.3 million in childcare payments from the Commonwealth. This matter was reviewed by the Indicting Grand Jury and the defendant was sentenced by the Honorable Ann Marie Coyle.

“The evidence shows that for the last seven years Hubert Hendricks hid his record, illegally operated three childcare facilities in Philadelphia and took more than $9.3 million dollars from Commonwealth. He was a felon and ineligible to operate a childcare facility, but that did not stop him from forging documents and putting himself in a position to fraudulently receive millions in taxpayer dollars,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “Many thanks to the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, my Government Fraud Unit, and the men and the women of the Indicting Grand Jury for their hard work and dedication in investigating this case.”

District Attorney Seth Williams credited the work of the Pennsylvania State Police and other state agency investigators with assisting his Office investigate Hendricks and added, “Fraud, waste and abuse are things every citizen wants stamped out. Our investigation and Judge Coyle’s sentence makes it clear that there will simply be no tolerance for this kind of abuse of taxpayer money.”

Judge Coyle’s sentence came after an investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services who determined that in 2008 Kendrick’s had falsely submitted an application to become a State approved Day Care provider. In addition, the investigation revealed that Hendricks forged State and Federal clearances regarding his criminal history. Hendricks had a previous Federal conviction for the Distribution of Narcotics and two other convictions for unrelated offenses. Ultimately Kendrick’s fraudulent activity allowed him to operate daycare centers at 6327 Woodland Ave., 6315 Woodland Ave. and 2943 Reed St. Hendricks is currently incarcerated on State Rd. The childcare centers are no longer being operated by the defendant.



March 17, 2016

If found guilty, Jeffries faces an additional three life sentences

PHILADELPHIA (March 17, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that after a review by an Investigating Grand Jury, he is charging Quadir Jeffries (DOB: 12/5/91) with three counts of Murder for the February 13, 2014, killing of Keurlin Charles, Brian Williams and Vagner Freemont.

He is also being charged with three counts of Robbery (F1), one count of Burglary (F1), one count of Possession of an Instrument of Crime (M1), one count of Carrying Firearm without a License (F3), one count of Carrying a Firearm on the Public Streets (M1) and one count of Conspiracy (F1).

“Quadir Jefferies committed a horrible, triple murder,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “And I chose to submit his case to the Investigating Grand Jury because certain witnesses were reluctant to give simple answers to simple questions. I’m thankful for the good work of the Grand Jury and investigators, and hopeful that the families of Keurlin Charles, Brian Williams and Vagner Freemont will begin to receive the justice they deserve.”

Keurlin Charles, Brian Williams and Vagner Freemont were shot and killed inside a home on the 6300 block of Martins Mill Road in Philadelphia. All three victims were shot execution style with gunshot wounds to the head. After a detailed investigation, the physical and circumstantial evidence established that Quadir Jeffries was one of two killers at the scene. The other killer was Cori Thompson. Thompson was arrested in October of 2015 after providing a statement to investigators. The evidence against Jeffries ties him to Charles’, Williams’ and Freemont’s murders because of three major facts. First, fired cartridge cases from the scene matched a fired cartridge case from the scene of a nonfatal shooting home invasion twenty-six days prior, for which Jeffries was convicted. The evidence in that case showed that Jeffries fired the gun that left the cartridge behind. Second, cellular information put him at the scene of the crime. And third, he had and used Brian Williams’ bank card after the murder.

Jeffries is currently incarcerated. In December of 2015 Quadir Jeffries, Alonzo Wallace and Hakim Blatch were found guilty by a jury of their peers of Conspiracy (F1), Burglary (F1), Robbery (F1), and two counts of Aggravated Assault (F1) for a violent home invasion robbery that took place in the Hunting Park section of the City. Jeffries, Wallace and Blatch conspired to rob the 57-year-old male victim. Jeffries, Wallace and Blatch followed the victim to his house, gained entry through a co-conspirator, knocked a bedroom door off its hinges, and pistol whipped and stomped the victim in the face. Another person who was in the home at the time of the attack was shot by Wallace for confronting the trio. Jeffries, Wallace and Blatch took money and marijuana from the home and fled, but were eventually caught and convicted after female co-defendant pled guilty herself and testified against the attackers. Wallace was sentenced to 30-60 years, Blatch was sentenced to 23-46 years, and Jeffries 20-40 years.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s (DAO) investigation heard from many witnesses who corroborated the case’s evidence. In addition to the evidence and interviews, there was significant corroborating evidence from Jeffries’ own statements.

Jeffries will next appear, once a date has been scheduled, in court for his Preliminary Hearing.



March 16, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (March 16, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that after a review by an Investigating Grand Jury, he is charging former Visit Philadelphia Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Joyce Levitt (DOB: 6/28/54) with one count of Theft by Unlawful Taking (F3), one count of Theft by Deception (F3), one count of Theft Receiving Stolen Property (F3), twenty counts of Forgery (F3) and one charge of Access Device for Fraud (F3) for embezzling $200,000 from Visit Philadelphia (VP).

“Visit Philadelphia let Joyce Levitt watch the ledger books and $200,000 of the agency’s money charged out the door,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “Thank you to the men and women of my Economic and Cyber Crime Unit and the Investigating Grand Jury who, like me, are disgusted by Joyce Levitt’s embezzlement of money that was meant to benefit the people and City of Philadelphia and not her lifestyle.”

VP, formerly known as the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) is a non-profit organization that promotes leisure travel to the five-county Philadelphia region. It was created in 1996 by the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Since its inception, VP’s major source of funding comes from the City’s hotel tax. For fiscal year 2015, VP will receive $11,000,000 or 18 percent of the hotel tax.

Joyce Levitt was hired by VP in 2003 and became the organization’s CFO in 2005. As the CFO, Levitt was responsible for monitoring the hotel tax income, overseeing grants, compiling the agency’s financial statements, monitoring cash flow, and assisting and reporting to the Finance and Audit Committees of the Board.

Joyce Levitt’s embezzlement occurred from September 2005 through February 2012, but came to light on June 7, 2014, in a major Philadelphia newspaper that discussed how Levitt embezzled $200,000. Once the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) saw the article, the Office initiated a Grand Jury investigation.

The DAO’s investigation, and a 2011 VP audit, revealed that Levitt embezzled $118,806 by charging personal expenses to her corporate credit card. She also used VP’s corporate checks to pay for her personal Visa bills. During the time period of June 2007 through April 2011, Levitt wrote twenty checks totaling $83,632. She was able to write these checks to Visa with a signature stamp without permission. Some examples of her illegal charges include:

  • $19,470.20 for meals at high-end local restaurants;
  • $18,734.63 at BJ’s and Costco;
  • Two charges to a South Jersey Skin Care facility totaling $4,106.47; and
  • $1,567.50 to a New York furrier.

The 2011 audit revealed that Levitt did not submit, even when asked, receipts to support her purchases. The amounts and dates for what was submitted did not match, which led the auditors to conclude that Levitt had manipulated them and there were personal expenses charged to her card. After seeing the suspicious charges, auditors examined Levitt’s QuickBooks entries, the record keeping system VP used, and saw that she had voided or deleted entries. Her statements for October 2010 through September 2011 were online printouts and not originals, and Levitt had no documentation for October and November of 2010 and from January through September 2011. It was also found that the forms she submitted with these statements were backdated and manipulated.

The DAO began looking at this case in August of 2014 and submitted it to the Grand Jury in January 2015. Their hard work and dedication, looking at more than 40 exhibits and hearing from 20 witnesses, lead to today’s announcement of charges.

Joyce Levitt turned herself in today and will next appear, once a date has been scheduled, in court for her Preliminary Hearing.



March 10, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (March 10, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that after a review by an Investigating Grand Jury he is charging Edward R. Kirby (DOB: 12-3-56) and Edward A. Kirby (DOB: 6-19-81) for the death of George Kirby (DOB: 7-23-49).

Edward R. Kirby and Edward A. Kirby, who are respectively father and son, are charged with: Drug Delivery Resulting in Death (F1), Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Homicide/Drug Delivery Resulting in Death (F1), Criminal Homicide, Criminal Conspiracy (F3), 23 counts of Insurance Fraud (10 charges are F3 and 13 charges are M1), 13 counts of Identity Theft (F3), Five counts of Theft by Deception (F3), Five counts of Criminal Attempt to Commit Theft by Deception (F3), and 34 counts of Forgery (F3). Edward R. Kirby and George Kirby are brothers.

“The father and son duo of Edward R. and Edward A. Kirby killed a sick family member so they could reap the rewards of ten fraudulently attained insurance policies with, not a gun or a knife, pills. Their actions are evil and deplorable and they deserve nothing short of the maximum punishment under the law,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “I extend thanks to the men and women of the Investigating Grand Jury, the Philadelphia Police Department and my Office’s Insurance Fraud Unit who put in hours of hard work to complete this investigation.”

At the time of his death, George Kirby was essentially home-bound and shared a home with his eighty-four-year-old caretaker aunt, Betty Murray, in the Frankford section of Philadelphia. George’s medical records show that he was being treated for pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a heart condition. He was on oxygen 24-hours a day, developed a tolerance and addictive craving for strong medications, and had a history of drug abuse. He was also completely unaware of the insurance fraud scheme.

Edward R. Kirby had a history of significant drug abuse. His son Edward A. Kirby, fraudulently obtained ten life insurance policies as George Kirby so he could collect more than $100,000 in benefits. He attempted to apply for additional policies totaling almost $200,000. Edward A. Kirby completed and submitted the policy applications, forged signatures and falsely portrayed himself as the decedent by utilizing his own address, phone number and email address. When on the telephone with the insurance companies, Edward A. Kirby used an IP Relay System, a service accessed through the internet for the speech or hearing impaired, so the person on the other end of the phone would not recognize his voice.

Sometime in the month before the decedent died, Nicholas Kirby, who was George Kirby’s son, was on the phone with his uncle. Edward R. Kirby thought Nicholas hung up, so Edward A. Kirby, who was also on the phone, started to talk about their plan.

Nicholas heard the following:

“Go down there and kill him. Make it look like an accident. Just put a pillow over him and smother him,” said Edward A. Kirby.

Edward R. Kirby responded, “It’s not that easy.”

“I don’t care what you do, just take care of it. He’s your brother, you do it. The quicker you do this, the quicker we can get the money,” said Edward A. Kirby.

When Nicholas heard the “your brother” reference, he realized that they were talking about killing his father and so he called Officer McNicholas, a Philadelphia Police Officer friend.

About a month later, Edward R. Kirby delivered a bottle containing fifty methadone pills to the decedent. Nicholas testified that Edward R. Kirby, an addict himself who was taking prescribed methadone for pain, was well aware about what would happen when George took the methadone pills. George died of methadone intoxication. Nicholas, who was now certain that defendants had killed his father, once again called his police officer friend. After hearing what had occurred, Officer McNicholas contacted Detective Peters who was assigned to the Homicide Division and requested that a homicide investigation be opened.

During the investigation, Edward R. Kirby and Edward A. Kirby told inconsistent accounts, but their accounts were disproved by the evidence, especially when detectives recorded phone conversations between Nicholas and his uncle and cousin.

Edward R. Kirby and Edward A. Kirby will next appear, once a date has been scheduled, in court for their Preliminary Hearing.