Ethics board says Williams faces stiff payback deadline

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams enters the Federal courthouse in Philadelphia, PA at 6th and Market St. on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

In January, District Attorney Seth Williams agreed to pay the biggest fine in the history of the city’s ethic board after he failed to report five sources of income and scores of gifts.

Turns out, he didn’t mention the 1997 Jaguar XK8. Nor the insurance payment on car that his businessman friend covered.

Nor a Louis Vuitton tie for defendant worth $205.

Tuesday’s federal grand jury indictment of Williams revealed the Jag and other presents. In each case, the indictment said, he did favors for his gift-giving friends.

J. Shane Creamer Jr., executive director of the city’s Board of Ethics, said that in addition to fining Williams a record $65,000 in January, the board put tough language in its settlement with the district attorney.

The settlement agreement contains a provision that allows the ethics board to reopen its investigation if it found new information that the city’s top prosecutor did not disclosed. 

Creamer declined to say whether the board had already reopened the investigation, based on the new information in Williams’ indictment.

According to the federal indictment, Williams got the Jag from "Business Owner # 2" in June 2013. The same businessman paid $380 for an insurance policy on the car.

The businessman has been identified as Michael Weiss, co-owner of Woody's, a well-known Center City gay bar.

The indictment says the tie came from "Business Owner #1," who has been identified as Mohammad N. Ali, from Bucks County. He makes a living by selling prepaid telephone cards.

Williams never disclosed those gifts to the city ethics office, records show.

Williams is on a rigid payment scheduled with the board. If he doesn’t pay $2,840 by April 30, the board could have his wages garnished.

Creamer said this stipulation that was added to in Williams’ case was unique. The board for the first time determined that it needed a special recourse to allow quick action if Williams defaulted on the agreement.

The ethics board’s actions were based on the Philadelphia’s tight gift giving rules, which prohibits city officials from accepting any cash and or other gifts worth more than $99 in one year from a person who has a financial interest that could be affected by the official.