More trouble for Philly DA Seth Williams, on ethics and his federal case

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The hits just keep coming for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

The city’s Board of Ethics on Wednesday announced that his political action committee, The Seth Williams Victory Committee, and its treasurer have agreed to pay a $2,000 fine for failing to list on his 2016 campaign finance report $11,677 in spending.

And across town in federal court – where Williams is scheduled to stand trial on bribery and corruption charges next month – prosecutors charged one of the men accused of bribing him in a manner that suggests he may already be cooperating against the district attorney.

A lawyer for Mohammad N. Ali, the Feasterville businessman who allegedly bankrolled a 2012 luxury vacation for Williams and his girlfriend to Dominican Republic resort in exchange for various favors, did not immediately return calls for comment.

Prosecutors charged Ali Wednesday by way of a criminal information instead of an indictment – a sign that a defendant has already agreed to plead guilty.

The new settlement with the Board of Ethics says Williams’ PAC did not report in a 2016 campaign finance report filed Jan. 31 16 individual expenditures. They included payments for political consultants, campaign costs and fees.  

The largest single expense, $3,243, was for Union League dues Williams paid from his campaign fund.

The PAC and its treasurer, Kristen Stoner, must pay the $2,000 fine, according to the Board of Ethics.

The ruling came three months after the board assessed a record-breaking $62,000 penalty against Williams for failing to disclose more than $175,000 in gifts, including home repairs, airfare for vacations, Eagles sideline passes and cash in his statements of financial interest between 2010 and 2015.

Many of those gifts are featured in the 23-count indictment prosecutors unveiled last month, alleging Williams accepted bribes worth more than $34,000 from Ali and another businessman, Philadelphia bar owner Michael Weiss, who has not been charged in the case.

The allegations lodged against Ali on Wednesday largely mirrored the conduct attributed to him in Williams’ indictment last month.

Prosecutors say Ali showered the district attorney with gifts including cash, pricey meals, an iPad, Louis Vuitton and Burberry accessories and a $4,000 custom-designed sofa.

And twice, they alleged, he sought something in return – Williams’ assistance in keeping a friend out of prison during a 2012 drug case and the district attorney’s help the following year as Ali sought to avoid secondary security screening at Philadelphia International Airport.

Ali, who owned a prepaid phone card business at the time, was also charged Wednesday with failing to pay taxes on nearly $250,000 he earned in 2012 in addition to his half-million income that year.

U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond has not yet set a date for Ali to enter his plea.

Williams, 50, has denied accepting bribes from Ali, Weiss or anyone else and resisted calls from Gov. Wolf, Mayor Kenney and others to resign before his trial despite agreeing to a temporary suspension of his law license while he fights his case.

His predecessor in office, Lynne Abraham, and lawyer Richard Sprague have filed suit in Common Pleas Court asking a judge to force him out.

Williams announced Feb. 10 that he would run in the May 16 Democratic primary for a third term in office.

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