[OP-ED]: Philadelphia DA Seth Williams: Cold to Injustice/Hot for Corruption?
The 50-page federal indictment released recently that charged Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams with 23 counts of corrupt misconduct did not reference an egregious injustice committed by Williams that revolved around defiant refusal to acknowledge grievous errors.
That injustice perpetrated by Williams led to the deportation of two Latinos who were victims of his wrongful conviction.
When Williams prosecuted those Latinos he championed white racists who had viciously attacked that pair, who are cousins.
That injustice began over a decade before the 2009 election of Williams as the first African-American to serve as Philadelphia’s District Attorney.
Williams’ conduct in that injustice exposed the character of the man who campaigned for the District Attorney position as a progressive yet operated the DA’s Office with classic conservative-leaning policies that adversely impacted blacks and Latinos.
The DA’s Office under Williams, for example, operated a ruthless civil asset forfeiture program that snatched cash, cars, homes and other property, even from innocent persons who had the misfortune of relatives who sold drugs – generally small amounts.
Williams’ forfeiture scheme raked in millions of dollars annually. His program amassed more forfeiture money than larger cities like New York. Investigative reports stated Williams’ forfeiture program disproportionately ensnared “young male blacks and Latinos.”
That injustice carrying Williams’ fingerprints is rooted in an August 1996 incident where a mob of drunken racists attacked those two Latino men in the Oxford Circle section of Northeast Philadelphia. When the cousins fought off their attackers, one member of the mob collapsed and was hospitalized comatose.
Mob members claimed the Latinos bludgeoned their collapsed confederate with metal objects. Williams, then a prosecutor, eagerly embraced contradictory mob member accounts despite a lack of medical evidence and/or corroboration from eyewitnesses not associated with that mob.
Williams secured an assault/conspiracy conviction that sent the cousins to prison on 2-10-year sentences.
When that collapsed mob member died in 1998, prosecutors filed murder charges against the cousins claiming their beating produced that death. But a jury acquitted the cousins based largely on testimony from a forensic pathologist who presented evidence that the mob member collapsed in 1996 from a rare blood disorder not a beating by the cousins.
That murder trial acquittal caused the judge who convicted the cousins of assault to erase their assault conviction. However, Philly prosecutors appealed that erasure winning reinstatement of those unjust assault convictions.
Federal authorities deported the cousins based on their reinstated (and wrongful) convictions.
Relatives of the cousins begged Williams to help stop the deportations but Williams refused.
At the very time Williams campaigned in 2009 on changing DA Office culture – like refusal to correct injustices – he engaged in the same conduct he condemned by rejecting pleas to help those cousins.
The cold-hearted refusal of Williams to correct an injustice that ripped those cousins from their family and their decades-long legal immigrant life in America is not surprising.
One charge in that federal indictment accused Williams of stealing $10,319 from his infirmed mother.