Seth Williams: District Attorney to Federal Inmate


As the court case for the former district attorney’s bribery charges continues to unfold, even Seth Williams himself was surprised to find his bail revoked as of Thursday.

Most white collar criminals are given time to set their affairs in order before reporting to prison, according to defense lawyer Jack McMahon, but U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond is known to be a no-nonsense man. Previous cases involving public officials with white collar offenses have often ended with denied pleas to settle home lives before incarceration and this is not the first time he has expedited a case’s conclusion.

Williams attempted to offer evidence that he was no threat to the community and unlikely to flee by citing his poor financial state and the concerns of his immediate family, including his daughters; Judge Diamond retorted that Williams’ previous infractions of lying under oath had harmed his credibility, including lying about his financial situation less than six months before his trial while under oath.

With a potential sentence of up to five years, the charges against Williams are many and varied: 29 counts of corruption, including bribery and extortion. He has been accused of selling the power and influence of his office for his own personal gain while accepting vacations and gifts from wealthy benefactors including a used Jaguar and a $3,000 sofa, among others. The allegations also accuse Williams of spending his campaign funds on personal benefits and mismanaging funds set aside for his elderly mother and her nursing home expenses.

Judge Diamond ordered the case to come to trial roughly three months after Williams’ March indictment. At the time, Williams had chosen to remain in office while fighting the felony charges, giving the judge reason to move the case forward as quickly as possible for the sake of public interests.

In the meantime, Williams remains in Special Housing Unit to await sentencing, kept segregated from the rest of the population for fear of his personal safety. William J. Brennan, a Philadelphia defense attorney, weighed in on the unit: “No one wants to be in a federal detention center, but if you land there, the last place you want to be is the SHU. It’s like the Seventh Circle of Hell.”