July 27, 2016
By David Gans Our campaign-finance system is badly broken and is deforming our democracy. The problem is the Supreme Court, not the Constitution. In a series of 5-4 rulings, Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative colleagues have rewritten the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech, insisting that money is speech, that corporations are an essential part of "We the People," and that the government's only legitimate interest in limiting election spending and giving is to prevent bribery.
June 12, 2016 |
State Sen. Larry Farnese pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of paying a bribe to sway a 2011 election for Democratic ward leader in Center City's Eighth Ward. Ellen Chapman, a committeewoman in that ward whose vote Farnese is accused of attempting to influence, also pleaded not guilty Friday. Prosecutors say Farnese paid $6,000 to fund a college study-abroad program for Chapman's daughter in a bid for her help with the vote in the ward leader election. Farnese and Chapman were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and violations of the Travel Act. Federal prosecutors say Farnese used money from his political action committee to help Chapman's daughter.
May 12, 2016 |
STATE SEN. Larry Farnese of Philadelphia was accused in a federal indictment Tuesday of using a $6,000 bribe to sway a 2011 election for a Democratic ward leader in Center City's Eighth Ward. Farnese, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, paid $6,000 to fund a college-study-abroad program for the daughter of a committeewoman in the ward, Ellen Chapman, who was also charged in the indictment. Chapman "had originally intended to support a different candidate in the ward leader election" but switched her vote to help Farnese, according to federal prosecutors.
April 22, 2016 |
The former owner of a Bucks County financial consulting firm admitted his role Wednesday in a transatlantic bribery scheme aimed at securing funding for foreign energy projects from a European economic development bank. Dmitrij Harder, 43, of Huntingdon Valley, a dual German and Russian citizen, told a federal judge in Philadelphia that he attempted to conceal $3.5 million in payments he made to an official at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development between 2007 and 2009 by funneling the payoffs through accounts held by the banker's sister.
February 3, 2016 |
Reading's former city council president was ordered Monday to serve two years in prison, becoming the first public official sentenced as part of a bribery investigation that has also implicated mayors in two Pennsylvania cities. Francisco Acosta, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in August, admitting that he accepted a $1,800 bribe meant to buy his support to repeal the city's anticorruption ordinance, which put caps on political contributions and barred government contractors from donating to campaigns.
January 9, 2016 |
"Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. " - Louis Brandeis The impulse to ferret corruption from politics corrupts the criminal justice system when it causes overzealous prosecutors and judges to improvise novel interpretations of the law of bribery. Consider Robert McDonnell's case. Virginia's former Republican governor has been sentenced to prison for actions that he could not have reasonably anticipated would be declared felonies under a dangerous judicial expansion of federal law defining bribery of public officials.
December 20, 2015 |
Former Philadelphia Sheriff John D. Green's two decades in office were plagued by troubling audits and allegations from city and state watchdogs of cronyism, mismanagement, and fraud. On Friday, federal authorities added a new wrinkle to the legacy of the retired lawman, accusing him of taking bribes worth six figures from a top campaign donor and friend who was granted a virtual stranglehold over $115 million in Sheriff's Office contracts. Prosecutors allege that Green, 68, all but handed over the reins of one of the major duties of his office - managing court-ordered sales of foreclosed properties - to advertising and title firms owned by James R. Davis Jr., 65, of Wyncote.
August 7, 2015 |
A WEEK AFTER he was charged in an 85-page indictment with U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and three others, Herbert Vederman, a lobbyist and former deputy mayor, appeared in court yesterday before a federal magistrate. A short, thin man with white hair, dressed in a dark suit and wearing glasses, Vederman, 69, did not speak during his brief appearance before Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter. Upon agreement by prosecutor Eric Gibson, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, and Vederman's attorney, Catherine Recker, Vederman, who has not been in custody, was released on a $100,000 personal-recognizance bond.
July 10, 2015 |
A military contractor at the center of what the Defense Department has described as the largest contracting and bribery case to come out of the Iraq War was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in federal prison Wednesday. But as George H. Lee Jr. saw it, he did little, if anything, wrong. In a rambling speech to U.S. District Judge Joel H. Slomsky, Lee, 72, a Montgomery County native, said he was remorseful, yet repeatedly denied having done anything to be remorseful for. Despite pleading guilty to bribery this year, Lee rejected prosecution claims that he gave more than $1 million in cash, jewelry, spa treatments, and hotel stays to Army officials who steered $20 million in contracts his way. "I know what I did was wrong, but I just have this feeling that I didn't do anything wrong," he said.