PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The federal corruption trial of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams is underway.
Judge Paul Diamond gave the jury instructions Tuesday morning, which was followed by the opening statements from Assistant U.S. Attorney Vineet Gauri.
The federal prosecutor laid out the government’s case against Williams, dividing their case into five different schemes. Those include accepting $34,000 in bribes, like free trips and cash from Philadelphia businessmen in exchange for special treatment from the city.
He focused specifically on business owner No. 1: Mohammed Ali, and accused Williams of requesting a lax in airport security screenings in exchange for expensive gifts.
The government also plans to show Williams stole $20,000 from his mother’s pension and Social Security accounts and used city vehicles for personal reasons.
In his opening statement, Thomas Burke, Williams’ attorney, said the government’s case against his client is weak, which is why they combined five different so-called schemes against him.
Burke used the same story to mold his side of the case, saying to jurors that Williams simply introduced Ali to the appropriate authorities and never took a bribe. Burke said Ali and Williams were best friends, and texted each other like school girls and often went away on trips together on trips.
Burke admits Williams made mistakes and used bad judgement, but he claims in his seven-and-a-half years as district attorney, not a single case Williams prosecuted was tainted or corrupt.
Burke added the government is just searching for a crime.
On Monday, Williams spent the entire day in court as 137 potential jurors were pared down to 12 jurors and four alternates. Ten women and two men make up the jury. All the alternates are women, too.
They will decide if Williams is guilty of the 29 counts of bribery and corruption charges he’s facing.
Diamond pledged a speedy timeline, but told the jury the trial could still last up to three to four weeks.
Williams has denied any wrongdoing and has refused to step down as district attorney.
CBS3’s Trang Do and Greg Argos and KYW Newsradio’s Kristen Johanson contributed to this report.