DA Seth Williams' nonprofit may be disbanded

Board members of a nonprofit founded by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams will consider disbanding the charity when they meet in mid-September, according to two sources familiar with the discussion.

The Second Chance Foundation, started by Williams in 2011, received a subpoena for financial documents Aug. 22, an expansion of a federal investigation into Williams' personal and political finances that has been underway since last summer.

The discussion about disbanding the nonprofit started two weeks ago, before the subpoena but after Williams disclosed that he had taken $160,050 in previously unreported gifts from 2010 to 2015, the sources said.

In a conference call the same week the gifts were made public, a majority of the board's members agreed that the nonprofit should be disbanded and its assets given to other charities, the sources said.

Williams did not participate in that call and does not support the decision, according to the sources.

Williams, through a spokesman, declined to comment about the nonprofit Tuesday. Christopher Hall, a lawyer representing the nonprofit, also declined to comment.

The board's members did not respond Monday to requests for comment.

Two board members who resigned after Williams disclosed the gifts confirmed that discussions had been underway about ending the nonprofit's operations.

Both said the discussion began after the gifts were made public but before the subpoena was received by the nonprofit.

Ryan Boyer, business manager of the Laborers District Council of the Metropolitan Area of Philadelphia and Vicinity, was chairman of the nonprofit until he resigned two weeks ago.

"There was talk about disbanding the fund and disbursing the money to charities it had already given money to," said Boyer, who said the Second Chance Foundation did good work supporting programs that needed help.

Boyer said the controversy about Williams' belatedly reported gifts made it difficult to continue the nonprofit's work.

"When the face of the organization is somewhat tainted by what he did, how is the fund-raising going to be?" Boyer said.

Gaetano Piccirilli, a lawyer who served on the board and resigned around the same time as Boyer, also confirmed the conversations about disbanding the nonprofit.

Piccirilli said he resigned after expressing his concerns to Williams.

"It was a difference of opinion between Seth and me about whether the organization had any viability going forward," he said.

The foundation's website describes its mission as providing "financial assistance and resources to vital, community-based organizations that serve at-risk children, young adults and families to help them lead more productive lives that promote a safer Philadelphia."

The nonprofit's most recent federal tax filing, submitted in November, listed $104,038 in assets at the end of 2014.

Williams, a Democrat, is planning to seek a third term next year.

Along with the ongoing federal investigation and gifts controversy, Williams must now also contend with the negative publicity generated by criminal charges filed Sunday against a woman Williams in the past had identified as his girlfriend. Stacey Cummings, according to the charging documents, confessed to slashing the tires on two city-owned vehicles assigned to Williams' security team and parked outside his house in November.

That case is being prosecuted by the Delaware County District Attorney's Office.

brennac@phillynews.com

215-854-5973 @ByChrisBrennan