City Payroll Takes Focus at Indicted Prosecutor’s Trial

PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A defense attorney for Philadelphia’s indicted top prosecutor struggled at trial Friday to put a legal spin on the gifts his client never reported receiving from wealthy benefactors.

District Attorney R. Seth Williams is paid by the city, but the defense argues that his elected office distinguishes him from municipal employees, who are required to make disclosures of gifts and other income worth more than $200 to the city ethics board.

Rachel Kimmel Mitchell, director of Human Resources for the DA’s office, answered in the affirmative Friday was asked by the prosecution if Williams worked for the city.

When defense attorney Thomas Burke asked if she meant Williams was a city employee, however, Mitchell she said she did not.

Mitchell said that her department, while aware of city payrolls, does not do the accounting, which is instead handled by the city.

Emails between Mitchell and Williams show that he reported some alternative income, such as his adjunct professorships with Temple and Villanova universities and his Army Reserve pay. He also consistently reported a federal student loan debt. Other emails mentioned gifts such as baseballs from Eagles games, as well as awards and plaques.

Williams did not disclose gifts he received from area businessman Muhammad Ali, who spent hours on the stand this week testifying about the luxury trips and other gifts he gave Williams.

Friday marked Day 3 of Williams’ jury trial, which expected to last another three weeks. Before adjourning for the day this afternoon, U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond asked the prosecution if they were on schedule to rest their case by next Friday.

Diamond said he would consider recessing for the Fourth of July holiday if the prosecution did finish by then.

Williams, 50, is accused of 23 counts of bribery and fraud.

A Democrat who became the first black DA in the city and the commonwealth in 2010, Williams has not resigned from his position as DA but has voluntarily suspended his law license and announced he will not run for a third term.

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