By Mike DeNardo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams today announced charges against two Pennsylvania state representatives caught in an investigation that state attorney general Kathleen Kane had declined to prosecute.
State representatives Vanessa Lowery Brown (top photo) and Ron Waters (below), both Democrats representing sections of Philadelphia, are charged with conspiracy, bribery, and other crimes, for allegedly taking cash from an undercover agent.
DA Seth Williams says a grand jury saw the transactions caught on undercover video, and the panel heard from the state reps themselves.
“Both officials personally appeared before our grand jury and fully — I repeat, fully — admitted that they knowingly took illegal cash payments,” Williams said today.
This makes three elected officials caught in the sting. Former Traffic Court judge Thomasine Tynes was charged in October with accepting a $2,000 Tiffany’s bracelet from undercover operative Tyron B. Ali.
Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane declined to prosecute the case, saying it relied on a questionable undercover agent. Williams, who picked up the investigation, said he was “disgusted” that the attorney general also suggested the investigation could be seen as targeting African-Americans.
“It was not racially motivated — people were not ‘targeted,’ ” Williams said.
He says Waters took $8,750 in cash and Brown accepted $4,000.
Waters and Brown surrendered this morning in Dauphin County, Pa. Waters’ attorney, Fortunato Perri Jr., says the charges were expected. He says Waters has begun the process of accepting responsibility for his conduct and he plans to resolve the issue without going to trial.
Brown’s attorney declined to comment.