PHILADELPHIA — A federal grand jury Tuesday returned a 23-count indictment charging current Philadelphia district attorney (DA) with bribery, extortion, and honest services wire fraud in connection with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of concealed bribes that he received from two business owners in exchange for his agreement to perform official acts.
The indictment also charges the defendant with defrauding a nursing home and family friends of money earmarked for a family member’s care, following a federal investigation that included U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), FBI and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Rufus Seth Williams, 50, is charged with 10 counts of travel and use of interstate facilities to promote and facilitate bribery contrary to Pennsylvania law, two counts of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right, five counts of honest services wire fraud and six counts of wire fraud. He will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on a date to be determined.
Each of the Travel Act counts is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right and the wire fraud charges are punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Each count carries a potential fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $54,466, representing the sum of $34,146 worth of bribe proceeds and $20,320 worth of fraud proceeds.
The U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recused his office from the investigation involving the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and the matter was assigned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. Two prosecutors from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania office were assigned to the case, subject to the supervision of prosecutors in the New Jersey office.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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