Philadelphia News & Search
Much like its owner, District Attorney R. Seth Williams’ house in Overbrook Farms has seen better days.
The infamous $45,000 roof – a gift from a political supporter in 2013 that attracted scrutiny because of the DA’s initial failure to report it on his financial disclosure forms – looks brand new.
I’m not sure what I expected.
But as I entered the four-bedroom house he hopes to sell for almost half a million dollars, I wondered about the man who lives there.
Williams, who was elected in 2009, came in amid much hope and promise but now stands charged with 23 federal criminal counts. He has pleaded not guilty to taking $34,145 in bribes from two businessmen and stealing another $20,319 intended for the care of his elderly sick mother.
I thought about all Williams faces as my eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight outside to the relative dimness of the house’s interior. To my left, there was a decent-sized living room with a fireplace and to my right a dining room with a small glass table.
I walked farther back into the house and found myself in the family room next to a ginormous sectional that’s brown like the $3,200 custom sofa investigators allege the DA accepted in 2012 from a benefactor who reportedly sought his influence. I touched the fabric, trying to see what it was made of. That’s when Anthony F. Patterson Sr., the listing agent for Realty Mark Associates, suddenly loomed.
Moving on, I passed an old Obama campaign poster, went down some stairs and landed in the basement. Judging from all the stuff pushed against the walls, it looks as if Williams uses the space mainly for storage. On the way to the laundry room, my eyes fixed on a yellowed copy of what appeared to be Williams’ diploma from Penn State hanging haphazardly on a wall. What an odd place for it, I thought.
The kitchen with its gorgeous granite counter tops was immaculate and sunny. There’s an island in the center of the room. The refrigerator has the requisite proud-dad school photos and an assortment of other items on it. From the kitchen, I ventured into the spacious back yard in need of landscaping.
Next, it was on to the bachelor pad-esque master bedroom with its modern, white headboard against a dark moody wall. The sight of a Catholic rosary lying on a nightstand next to a candle stopped me. Had it been placed there merely for staging purposes? Or had the 50-year-old Williams been lying awake at night, fingering the beads as he prayed for an end to his considerable legal woes?
A large black cat on a white couch stretched as I walked over for a look into a small en-suite bathroom. There wasn’t much to see there. I moved on quickly.
Williams, who is divorced, has three daughters with ex-wife, Sonita Williams. My heart ached for them as I walked into a pink bedroom, and then one done up in purple. What must his poor girls be going through with their dad’s indictment and now total strangers traipsing through their space?
In another room, there is a bathroom off to the side with a handicapped-adapted toilet. On a wall hangs what appears to be a family portrait of a sweet-faced, grandmotherly looking person posing with a younger Williams. Was she the woman who adopted the future DA as a toddler only to have him accused of stealing more than $20,000 in Social Security and pension income from her?
Heading down the steps, I glanced up at a wooden crucifix hanging overhead. A crucifix!
The house is on the market for $449,900. No doubt, Williams needs any proceeds he can get to offset legal bills.
But if he’s really the good guy he wants people to think he is, the DA should put aside some of that money for his 84-year-old mother who has Parkinson’s Disease.
I’m not saying he stole from her. That will be decided when he has his day in court. I’m just saying that whatever the outcome, it would be what any “thankful beggar” would do.
Philadelphia News & Search