Feds expand charges against Philadelphia’s top prosecutor

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams arrives for a preliminary hearing in his bribery and extortion case at the federal courthouse, in Philadelphia, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Federal authorities have expanded a bribery case against the city’s top prosecutor but say they don’t plan to delay his scheduled May 31 trial.

District Attorney Seth Williams remains in the $175,000-a-year job but has a deputy oversee legal matters because his law license is suspended.

Williams, a two-term Democrat, has denied charges that he promised legal favors in exchange for more than $100,000 in gifts from several business owners. He has belatedly filed financial reports that show he accepted about $175,000 in cash, gift and trips from friends as he struggled to maintain his family’s lifestyle after a divorce.

The expanded indictment issued Tuesday adds charges that he used city vehicles for personal reasons after hours and used campaign funds to cover expensive dinners, facials and other costs.

The totals were relatively modest: $678 for New Year’s Eve with his girlfriend, $777 for her birthday dinner, $225 a month for massages. But they add to the portrait of Williams as someone who frequented the city’s private Union League while taking a free roof from a contractor and talking of how difficult it is to make ends meet.

Either side could use the new indictment to seek more time to prepare for trial, although it’s unclear if they will or if the judge would grant such a request.

U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond has kept the case on a fast track since Williams was indicted on March 22. He insists the city needs the case resolved quickly given its potentially “calamitous effect on the city’s criminal justice system.”

Still, Williams could seek more time now that six more charges have been added to the original 23-count indictment. Defense lawyer Thomas Burke did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Williams is not seeking a third term in next week’s primary. Liberal billionaire George Soros has steered nearly $1.5 million into a fund supporting one of the seven Democratic hopefuls, civil rights lawyer Larry Krasner.

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