Theresa Pinkett, who for 10 years performed constituent services for Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller and more recently did similar work for City Controller Alan Butkovitz, has been charged with extortion by U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan.
According to the federal information, Pinkett, 53, took money from one or more unnamed individuals who needed help in dealing with "real-estate issues" related to their properties in the city.
Pinkett, who resigned her $46,000 job Friday as a community-affairs specialist in the city controller's office, is the second Miller employee to face federal corruption charges.
Two years ago, Steven Vaughn, Miller's chief of staff, was convicted of fraud in connection with a tax-collection scheme involving Muslim cleric Shamsud-din Ali, who is serving a federal prison term for his role in the tax-collection fraud.
Vaughn served five months in prison for accepting $2,000 after helping Ali get a $60,595 fee for collecting city taxes from a Chestnut Hill company, though Ali did no work.
Reached for comment yesterday, Pinkett declined to discuss the federal criminal charges, saying, "The person who murdered my son is still walking around so I don't want to talk about any of that." She did not elaborate on her remark.
If convicted, Pinkett faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. She is represented by Kai Scott, an assistant federal public defender, who could not be reached for comment.
In a written statement, Meehan said, "At any level, abusing one's public position for personal gain is illegal and cannot be tolerated. The citizens and taxpayers of Philadelphia deserve the honest and faithful services of public employees."
Miller, who faced a serious primary challenge last May but breezed to re-election last month, did not return Daily News calls seeking comment. Pinkett joined her office in February 1996.
Sometime between 2001 and 2003, Pinkett is accused of accepting $5,000 and a cell phone in exchange for identifying city employees who could help the unnamed person, and then contacting those employees on the individual's behalf.
In January 2006, Pinkett left her $33,800 job with Miller and went to work in Butkovitz's office. Butkovitz described Pink-ett's job as helping people with "cutting through red tape" at City Hall.
According to the federal information, Pinkett is accused of extorting $1,200 in late 2006, while working in the controller's office. She allegedly helped the individual with real-estate problems by getting a meeting with a city employee.
"As best we can tell, she's accused of taking money for something that was part of her job," Butkovitz said. "It's totally unacceptable behavior, and you have to be constantly vigilant."
Butkovitz described Pinkett as a "a spiritual person, a churchgoer, and that's why I was so surprised. This is a total shock. This allegation takes me aback."
He said he had come to know Pinkett through her husband, Zabir Hameen, who worked for Butkovitz's 2005 campaign for controller.
"She was working in Miller's office and wanted . . . out of that office," Butkovitz said. *