Seth Williams likes to be of help.
And he likes to be helped in return. With things like island suites and Vegas getaways, cold hard cash and secondhand sports cars, Louis Vuitton ties and Burberry watches, a new iPad, a nice custom couch.
“I wish I could help more,” he allegedly texted one businessman offering bribes. “As you know, I hate to let people down.”
We know, Seth. We know.
Oh, and he’s also willing to steal from his own mother, so let’s just get that out of the way.
That’s just how pathetic the allegations are that the feds laid out in a 23-count indictment Tuesday, charging our district attorney with bribery, extortion, and honest services wire fraud for allegedly accepting tens of thousands in bribes and gifts — and for allegedly offering a hand to buddies bearing spoils. That’s not including the $20,000 he allegedly pilfered in pension and Social Security funds meant to pay for his mother’s care at a nursing home.
For so long, we entertained — and Seth encouraged — the idea of our district attorney as a bumbling doofus. He paraded and tweeted as a harmless guy who only wanted to do good, who assumed office with such promise and potential, but had a little trouble paying bills.
Luckily, Williams always had friends who could help with no expectation of anything in return.
Except, of course, they did.
And, per the 50-page indictment returned by a federal grand jury, Williams was always all too willing to return the favors.
“In the future always give me at least a week to help a friend,” he told Mohammad N. Ali, a Philadelphia prepaid telephone card king, after agreeing to see what he could do about shortening a potential prison sentence that Ali’s friend faced.
(The indictment does not say whether Williams interfered in the case, but even agreeing to would be a federal crime, officials said.)
“I want to see you the next mayor and the next governor and maybe the next president,” Ali texted, adding a smiling emoji for good measure.
As for Williams, his sights were set far lower.
“If you are planning more trip to Punta [Cana] or Vegas feel free to drag me along,” he texted back.
Our district attorney was allegedly willing to subvert justice and prostitute his office, not for power or prestige but for spring break.
DA Gone Wild.
Somehow, at a news conference at the FBI building, acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick kept a straight face when he described Williams’ texts as having only “evidentiary value.”
They are a ticket to jail.
Need help with an out-of-state liquor license? Sure deal, Williams allegedly replied to Bill Weiss, owner of Woody's Bar. But he'd love a family trip to the San Diego Zoo, plus $130 for cabaña clothes.
An all-access badge reading, “district attorney, special advisor”? he replied to Ali. Sure thing, but he'd love to tag along to Key West -- and that Jaguar that needed some work.
As for that $3,200 couch, please make sure it’s “the exact one,” he needled Ali. “The special-order color Chocolate.”
Not that it would be any better if Williams sold his soul for millions, but this is just cheap.
“I am merely a thankful beggar,” Williams texted Ali.
While it’s easy to get lost in tawdriness, we can’t lose sight of the damage Williams has inflicted on the reputation and integrity of his office.
Late Tuesday, predictable news filtered from the District Attorney’s Office: Though disgraced and indicted, like his onetime nemesis, Kathleen Kane, Williams did not step down.
The first acting district attorney, Kathleen Martin, notified staff that, having cooperated with the feds, Williams would be “spending some quiet time away and alone with his family.”
Facing jail, but still cashing a check.
“Can I be a greeter or celebrity bartender to work off my debt,” Williams once texted Weiss, according to the indictment.
Sure, Seth, maybe down the road.