Day 3 Testimony In Seth Williams Trial Focuses On Vacations, Gifts

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams sat in federal court for the third day of his corruption trial on Thursday.

Williams is allegedly involved in what federal prosecutors call five schemes, that could put him behind bars.

Authorities say one scheme was using his mother’s nursing home money to pay personal bills, but Thursday’s testimony focused on vacations and gifts. The jury saw video of Williams on an all-expenses paid vacation in the Caribbean.

The prosecution questioned Williams’ friend and associate Mohammad Ali, a Bucks County businessman who authorities say bought Williams expensive gifts. Ali admitted to paying for Williams’ trip to the Dominican Republic. Authorities say it was in exchange for Williams smoothing the wheels of justice for Ali.

Ali was being investigated by Homeland Security Agent Thomas Acerno, who testified that he tracked Ali’s travels.

In court, Acerno testified that Ali came back from a trip to the Dominican Republic with his family and did not go through the proper secondary screening customs check upon his return. The agent said Philadelphia police met Ali at the jet way and skipped a secondary screening.

Acerno called it “abnormal” and said it appeared “Ali had a connection.”

The judge told Williams’ defense attorney to lower his voice and not fight with the witness.

Acerno said he would confiscate Ali’s phone from time to time, finding text messages from Williams about how he was trying to do his part to keep Ali from going through secondary airport screenings.

Ali told the jury he befriended Williams because he wanted a friend who had a lot of power. During Thursday’s testimony, Williams sat to the side, taking notes. He frequently looked back at observers and journalists with a smile on his face. One of Williams’ friends sat in the front row, highlighting Bible verses.

According to text messages presented in court, Ali also told Williams via text he had a friend that needed legal help. Ali said his friend didn’t want to do jail time.

According to the text message, Williams responded he would look into the matter. Williams has indicated he will not step down from his position as district attorney in Philadelphia. Williams’ legal team has always said while the district attorney may have made bad decisions, he did nothing illegal and they look forward to presenting their side of the story in court.

Williams has denied any wrongdoing.

CBS3’s David Spunt and KYW Newsradio’s Kristen Johanson contributed to this report.

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