Pennsylvania State Representatives plead guilty to charges from controversial sting

Philadelphia D.A.'s Office

Two more elected officials caught acceping illegal gifts in a controversial undercover sting pleaded guilty today to criminal charges, D.A. Seth Williams announced.

State Rep. Ronald Waters (D-Philadelphia) and former State Rep. Harold James pleaded guilty in Dauphin County to felony Conflict of Interest charges today.

According to the D.A., Waters pleaded guilty to accepting $8,750 for “voting against specific legislation, setting up and attending meetings with an executive at the Philadelphia Parking Authority, and contacting an elected official to help the [informant’s] friend get a job.”

James pleaded guilty to accepting $750 “for his special election reelection campaign and offering to further sell his services to the [informant],” the D.A. said in a statement.

“Representatives Waters and James, both of whom I know and call friend, have ended their distinguished careers by taking responsibility for their actions, and I appreciate that, because the evidence clearly shows that they broke the law,” Williams said in a statement.

Waters was previously outed as an alleged recipient of an illegal gift when the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed in March 2014that Attorney General Kathleen Kane had shut down an undercover sting into political corruptionwithout pressing charges.

The sting, launched by then-Attorney General Tom Corbett, used an undercover operative who posted as a lobbyist seeking influence in the Harrisburg state house — and secretly recorded and videotaped conversations with sitting officials in which he offered gifts for promised favors.

D.A. Seth Williams took over the case in June 2014, and has since pressed charges against all five Philadelphia Democrats named in the original Inquirer report, as well as one previously not named, former state rep. James.

Former Traffic Court Supervising Judge Thomasine Tynes, who was implicated in the same sting,has already pleaded guilty and admitted accepting a $2,000 Tiffany’s bracelet in exchange for favors.

Court dates are scheduled for the other indicted State Reps allegedly snared in the sting:Louise Williams Bishop on June 5, Michelle Brownlee on June 8 and Vanessa Lowery Brown on July 13.

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