PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Former Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison after pleading guilty in a corruption scandal.

Judge Paul Diamond imposed the maximum penalty in the case.

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“You have sold yourself to the parasites you have surrounded yourself with,” Diamond said.

Williams pleaded guilty to a bribery charge in the middle of his federal corruption trial in June, admitting he took payouts in exchange for official action.

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He also admitted to defrauding a nursing home caring for his ill mother.

Williams’ lawyers had hoped the judge would release him on electronic monitoring, so he could spend time with his 87-year-old mother before he was given a prison assignment.

“I specifically made that request, not for him, but for his mother, and for his daughters,” said lawyer Tom Burke. “Unfortunately, the court denied that request.”

It was a twist now escaping the judge as Diamond said Williams dumped his mother in that nursing home like a sack of potatoes.

“The English language doesn’t have the word to address the outrageousness of this request,” said Diamond in court. [H]e “stole from his mother.”

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“Mr. Williams is a criminal,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Zauzmer. “He did not simply make a mistake, he engaged in these crimes continuously over the course of many years, basically anybody who is in a position for him to exploit.”


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Williams wiped tears from his eyes, as his attorney read aloud a letter from Williams to the court, apologizing to his family and the citizens of Philadelphia.

“He has a lot of regrets, he’s made some mistakes, he admitted to those mistakes, he’s genuinely sorry for those mistakes,” said Burke.

Williams, a graduate of Georgetown Law School, was the city’s first black district attorney. He lost his law license last week.

Last year, before he was indicted, he belatedly filed financial disclosure reports showing he had accepted about $175,000 in cash, gift and trips from friends as he struggled to maintain his family’s lifestyle after a divorce. He was fined $62,000 by the city ethics board, its largest fine ever.

Williams has 14 days to appeal his sentence and will remain in solitary confinement, until the government decides where he goes next.


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CBS 3’s Joe Holden and KYW Newsradio’s Kristen Johanson both contributed to this story.