June 01, 2015
Pennsylvania state Rep. Ronald Waters and former state Rep. Harold James pleaded guilty Monday to accepting money in exchange for political actions, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced.
Waters, a Democrat who has represented the 191st Legislative District since 1999, pleaded guilty to nine counts of felony conflict of interest. He was sentenced to 23 months probation and ordered to pay $8,750 in restitution and $5,000 to cover the cost of his prosecution. He also must resign.
James, a Democrat, who previously served in the 186th Legislative District, pleaded guilty to one count of felony conflict of interest. He was sentenced to 12 months probation and ordered to pay $750 in restitution. He also must pay $2,000 to cover the cost of his prosecution.
Williams released a statement calling their admissions of guilt a "sad day" for Philadelphia.
"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. "This office's ongoing mission to find and prosecute political corruption is one I take seriously and one that I will continue to do for the people of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
Waters and James were implicated in an undercover sting launched by the state Attorney General's Office. Attorney General Kathleen Kane declined to bring charges against those implicated. Williams revived the case, filing charges against six elected officials.
A confidential informant recorded Waters accepting $8,750 for voting against specified legislation, contacting an elected official to help the informant's friend obtain a job and coordinating and attending meetings with an executive at the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
The informant recorded James accepting $750 for his reelection campaign and offering to further sell his services to the informant.
Hearings for state Rep. Louise Williams Bishop, Michelle Brownlee and Vanessa Lowery Brown — all similarly charged — are expected to take place in Dauphin County later this summer.
Thomasine Tynes, the former President Judge of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, previously pled guilty to bribery, conflict of interest and conspiracy charges.