A woman romantically linked to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams was charged Sunday with slashing tires on two city-owned vehicles outside his house.
The charges came nine months after the incident and seven months after investigators in Williams' office concluded that the case had been bungled to the point where the opportunity to solve it was lost.
On Wednesday, Stacey Cummings, 47, confessed to slashing the tires, according to documents outlining her charges - criminal mischief and possession of an instrument of crime - which were approved by the Delaware County District Attorney's office this weekend. The Philadelphia Prosecutor's Office turned the matter over to Delaware County to avoid any conflict of interest.
Cummings turned herself in to Philadelphia police on Sunday. She was released on her own recognizance.
The charges are the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. Two weeks ago, Williams belatedly disclosed that he had received $160,050 in gifts during his terms in office. Federal investigators have also been probing Williams' campaign spending and have interviewed some of his employees.
Cummings' motive for slashing the tires is murky. In a brief interview detailed in the charging documents, she told investigators that she slashed the tires because she had "received some information that was very upsetting and reacted poorly to it."
"I committed an act of vandalism to a tire or two," she told investigators.
Cummings, whom Williams identified as his girlfriend in his financial disclosure statements in 2012 and 2014, declined to elaborate on what had upset her enough to slash the tires. She and her lawyer did not return calls for comment Sunday night. A District Attorney's Office spokesman and Williams' campaign spokesman could not be reached for comment.
A Philadelphia police spokesman declined to comment Sunday.
The tires on the city-owned car assigned to Williams and to Sgt. Daniel Kearney, a member of his security detail, were slashed between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2015, according to an interoffice memo from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office obtained by the Inquirer. Replacing those tires cost taxpayers $845, but for months there appeared to be little effort to find out who had done it.
Investigators in Williams' office discovered the vandalism the following morning, according to the memo. Twelve days later, Kearney filed a police report on the incident.
Such investigations are usually handled by the Police Department, but in this case the District Attorney's Office took the lead. The captain of the police district where the slashings took place said in April that he was unaware of the vandalism, and the department said it was not investigating.
Two weeks after Kearney filed the police report, Williams' chief of staff, Kathy Martin, assigned Lt. Kenyatta Lee to investigate. Lee found that Kearney "neglected to follow police protocol and procedures" and "failed to take proper supervisory action" at the time of the incident.
"After talking to Sgt. Kearney, I believe the opportunity to identify the individual who committed the vandalism had been lost," Lee wrote in a memo dated Jan. 2, 2016. "Regrettably, I further believe that if proper police directives and procedures had been followed a more positive outcome would have been possible."
Kearney has been a member of Williams' security detail for some time. He and a colleague appeared on Williams' recently released financial disclosure statements. They gave the District Attorney $800 in "monetary holiday/Christmas presents" in 2013 and 2014.
Kearney could not be reached for comment Sunday night.
It is unclear why Cummings came forward nine months after the slashings. In her interview last week, she told investigators that she had acted alone, that she could not remember the exact date when she had slashed the tires, and that she did not know exactly what she had used to "stab" them.
"It was something from the vehicle," she told investigators, "that was sharp."