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Prosecutor moves to force convicted Philly State Rep. Vanessa Brown to resign

Pa. Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D., Philadelphia), who was found guilty of bribery and other crimes earlier this year, has refused to resign, even though Pennsylvania's constitution bars anyone convicted of bribery, perjury or other "infamous" crime from serving in the state legislature.

Vanessa Lowery Brown, on the steps leading down to the Pennsylvania Capitol rotunda.
Vanessa Lowery Brown, on the steps leading down to the Pennsylvania Capitol rotunda.Read moreDavid Swanson / Staff Photographer

HARRISBURG – The top prosecutor in Dauphin County on Friday filed a civil suit against Democratic State Rep. Vanessa Brown, seeking to force her to resign from office in the wake of her conviction on bribery and other crimes.

Brown, 52, who represents portions of West Philadelphia, was convicted in October on charges that she accepted envelopes stuffed with cash in exchange for official action during an undercover sting investigation. She was sentenced to probation late last month.

She has refused to step down from her $88,600-a-year job, even though Pennsylvania’s constitution states that anyone convicted of bribery, perjury, or other “infamous crime” is ineligible to serve in the legislature. Generally, those convicted of corruption crimes resign on the day they are sentenced.

Brown, who was reelected to another two-year term last month, has not returned phone calls seeking comment. In a separate interview, she said she does not plan to appear at the Capitol when legislators are to be sworn in on Jan. 1.

Her lawyers have said that she intends to appeal her conviction.

In court papers filed late Friday with the judge who oversaw Brown’s trial, Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo argued that Brown is flouting the court’s judgment. Brown was still acting as a lawmaker after sentencing, Chardo wrote, noting she introduced a condolence resolution Tuesday to honor Ardie Stuart Brown, founder of a Philadelphia dance studio and an author of children’s books.

Chardo is seeking to have the judge amend Brown’s sentence to require her to resign as a condition of her probation and return to the state any money that she may have received this month, either in salary or the expense allowances for lawmakers travel from their districts to Harrisburg.

He also asked the judge to consider modifying the sentence to include jail time.

According to legislative officials, Brown has not been paid a salary for the month of December (lawmakers are paid in advance for the month). But the message on her Capitol complex voicemail still identifies her as a state representative.