May 17, 2016 |
BECAUSE IT never ends and no longer surprises, another round of charges and a criminal plea involving Pennsylvania public figures pretty much gets a shrug. It shouldn't, but for citizens outside the circles of politics it does. For them, two more names - Larry Farnese, John Estey - are but interchangeable stickmen in games long seen as shady. Last week, connected Philly lawyer Estey, former top aide to Gov. Rendell, pleaded guilty after pocketing $13,000 during an elaborate sting designed to catch others.
May 12, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - John H. Estey, a former top aide to Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, pleaded guilty Tuesday to funneling illegal campaign contributions to Pennsylvania legislators to help a phony company set up by the FBI in an elaborate pay-to-play sting. Estey, a lawyer from Ardmore, pleaded guilty to a count of wire fraud committed in 2011, when he was snared in an investigation in which FBI agents posed as businessmen seeking influence with state legislators, according to court documents.
May 5, 2016
Getting caught in a 2011 FBI sting apparently didn't prevent disgraced insider John Estey from grabbing for more. When the FBI gave him $20,000 to bribe Pennsylvania legislators as an undercover informant, he allegedly pocketed $13,000 of it. Estey, who served as Gov. Ed Rendell's chief of staff, is expected to plead guilty as a result of the same investigation that forced another prominent Democrat, former state Treasurer Rob McCord, to admit threatening...
May 5, 2016 |
A jury of six men and six women was seated Tuesday to weigh the federal corruption case against U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) later this month. Opening arguments in the racketeering conspiracy case are scheduled for May 16 before U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III. Fattah, 59, has repeatedly denied charges that he accepted a lobbyist's bribes and misused charitable funds, campaign contributions and federal grant money under his control to pay off personal and campaign debts.
May 3, 2016
ISSUE | PA. CONSTITUTION Anticorruption moves The Inquirer has reported that former Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord wore a wire to record conversations during his final weeks in office ("Sources: McCord wore wire in probe," Thursday). And the Republican nominee for state attorney general, John Rafferty, has challenged the Democratic nominee, Josh Shapiro, to join him in pledging that if elected, he would not run for governor during his four-year term ("Sparring begins in campaign for A.G.," Thursday)
April 29, 2016
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah has "won more than 30 elections," he noted Tuesday, counting every primary and general - many of which were uncontested and most of which might as well have been. Two years ago, even though a longtime aide had pleaded guilty to corruption charges and implicated the congressman, Fattah won his 11th congressional term with 88 percent of the vote. But the Fattah era effectively ended in ignominy this week when, facing three challengers in the Democratic primary - three more than he had faced since 1994 - the congressman mustered only 35 percent of the vote and lost the nomination to veteran State Rep. Dwight Evans.
April 23, 2016 |
An Allentown political consultant whose cooperation with the FBI fueled one of the state's most significant municipal corruption probes resurfaced Thursday for the first time in months, this time to admit his own role in the scandal. Appearing in federal court in Philadelphia, Michael Fleck, 40, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy to commit extortion and bribery, charges tied to a wide-ranging pay-to-play investigation that has roiled city halls in Allentown and Reading, has implicated mayors in both cities, and led to the collapse last year of Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski's U.S. Senate bid. Fleck's plea came nine months after he abruptly shuttered his political consulting business and packed up his Allentown home, when word leaked he had worn an FBI wire to catch his clients shaking down government contractors for political donations.
April 14, 2016
By Arthur Caplan, Lee Igel, and Dominic Sisti With one week to go in the NBA regular season, Sam Hinkie decided to step down as general manager and president of basketball operations of the Philadelphia 76ers. As Sixers fans know, Hinkie has deliberately had the team tanking for years. His departure has to do with the Sixers brass, at the behest of an aghast NBA, forcing him to share decision-making authority with newly recruited executive Bryan Colangelo. But mainly Hinkie's departure has to do with a failure of "The Process.
March 17, 2016 |
A federal judge on Wednesday rejected U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah's bid to have his corruption case dismissed by relying on a congressional privilege meant to protect lawmakers' independence from interference from the executive branch. The decision clears the way for the Philadelphia Democrat's trial on racketeering conspiracy charges to proceed May 2. In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III said none of the allegations in the indictment against Fattah violate the "speech and debate" clause - a constitutional provision that bars federal prosecutors from questioning lawmakers or holding them criminally responsible for their legislative acts.