Pa. state rep.'s criminal charges prompt another to fire his own sister

State Rep. Angel Cruz
State Rep. Angel Cruz
Posted: January 30, 2014

THE ARREST of a state representative and his sister on corruption charges yesterday prompted another state representative to fire his own sister from his staff after nearly a decade on the payroll.

State Rep. J.P. Miranda, a Democrat in the second year of his first term representing North Philadelphia's 197th district, and his sister, Michelle Wilson, are charged with conflict of interest, perjury and conspiracy.

A grand jury found that Miranda funneled state money to his sister through a "ghost employee" after the state House Democratic Caucus told him in December 2012 that he could not hire her as his chief of staff because that would violate a nepotism rule.

State Rep. Angel Cruz, a Democrat now serving his seventh two-year term in the district just east of Miranda's, has employed his own sister since 2004, the House Democratic Caucus confirmed yesterday.

But no more. Cruz fired Judith Cruz-Torres yesterday from her $38,873-per-year job as a legislative assistant.

Bill Patton, spokesman for state House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, said Cruz received approval from a previous house minority leader in 2004 to hire his sister.

That former leader, state Rep. Bill DeWeese, is now serving 2 1/2 to 5 years in state prison for a conviction on public corruption charges.

Patton said he could not "offer insight" for why DeWeese approved the hiring of Cruz's sister.

"There was no attempt to conceal the fact that Judith Cruz-Torres is his sister and also a House employee," Patton said in an email after the Daily News asked about her employment.

Patton added that "Cruz felt it best to terminate the employment" of his sister after Miranda was charged Monday.

Patton, asked if Cruz-Torres has been working lately, said she started using "accrued leave time" in early December.

"As a part of the normal termination process, the caucus is reviewing recent weeks in December and January to determine if any money must be repaid for leave that might have been taken in excess of the days she had available," Patton said.

Cruz, who also serves as Democratic leader of the city's 7th Ward, did not respond yesterday to requests for comment.

Miranda and his sister surrendered yesterday and were being processed at the Philadelphia Police Department's headquarters.

Miranda apparently also faces trouble with the city's Revenue Department for unpaid property taxes going back eight years.

A review of the department's website shows Miranda owes $3,865.73 on his property on the 2200 block of North Carlisle Street in North Philadelphia.

According to the city's revenue department, Miranda has liens dating back to 2006 and 2007, paid up in 2008, but has been delinquent to date.

The Nutter administration yesterday said Miranda worked for the city in 2010 to help track the city population for the 2010 U.S. Census. He earned about $21,000 and was hired one month after the administration began to garnish the wages of city workers who had defaulted on their taxes.


On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout.com

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