DA on corruption case: Evidence is clear
District Attorney Seth Williams today announced charges against State Representatives Ronald Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown, including criminal conspiracy for accepting money in exchange for promised political actions.
These are the second set of charges to arise from a case originally investigated by the State Attorney General's office from 2010 to 2012, that was later abandoned by current Attorney General Kathleen Kane after she took office in 2013.
After the Inquirer first reported the news, Kane defended her decision arguing the investigation was flawed (and that it was conducted by a questionable undercover agent) with possible racial targeting because all five elected officials captured on tape are African American.
"It's pouring gasoline on the fire for no reason, no reason at all," said Williams on her claims of racism.
The DA announced the indictment of Rep. Waters and Rep. Brown, on charges including conflict of interest, bribery, and conspiracy. “I said last time that the evidence was clear, convincing, and captured on tape,” Williams said during the press conference Dec. 16.
The evidence presented to the grand jury included tape recordings and the full testimony of Waters and Brown. “Both officials personally appeared before our Grand Jury and fully admitted that they knowingly took illegal cash payments,” Williams said.
The AGO corruption investigation resulted in 113 recorded meetings or conversations. Twenty six of the recordings featured Waters, who is alleged to have accepted nine cash payments from the CI totaling $8,750. Twenty four of those recordings featured Lowery Brown, who is alleged to have accepted five cash payments totaling $4,000.
“It’s unfortunate that it took a grand jury investigation to expose these facts, and to finally move this case forward,” Williams said.