Federal authorities unsealed a 23-count indictment against Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams on Tuesday.
Within the 50-page document are text-message exchanges between Williams and a man investigators describe as "Business Owner #1." Prior statements of financial interests filed by Williams identified that man as Mohammad N. Ali, who provided the district attorney with trips to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; an iPad; and a couch.
According to the indictment, Ali paid for Williams and his then-girlfriend to travel to a resort in Punta Cana, where the couple stayed in the "Royal Service Presidential Suite." While there, authorities allege, Ali asked Williams for help with a friend of Ali's, identified as "Person #1," who was being investigated by the District Attorney's Office.
The indictment recaps multiple text-message exchanges between Ali and Williams in the days and weeks that followed; Williams expresses appreciation for the multiple gifts Ali bestowed upon him, and ultimately offers to get personally involved with Ali's friend's case.
The conversations begin Feb. 8, 2012:
Ali: "the guy pleaded guilty, he will take any punishment but he just doesn't wanna do jail! . . . If you can do anything for him it would be very appreciative (as long as you have no problem with it)."
Williams: "I will look into it."
Shortly thereafter, the indictment shows that Williams texted one word to Ali: "April?" Authorities allege that was in reference to another trip to Punta Cana that Ali was expected to pay for.
Williams: "I am merely a thankful beggar and don't want to overstep my bounds in asking ... but we will gladly go."
On Feb. 24, Williams and Ali had another text conversation -- this one about a $3,212 couch that Ali planned to buy for the district attorney. Ali attached a photo of the couch to the text thread.
Ali:"Is that it?"
Williams: "That is the exact one ... but the special order color Chocolate."
The two men discussed the couch again in a series of texts on April 6.
Williams: "The sofa will be delivered tomorrow ... how would you like me to re-pay you?"
Ali: "Stop it! I don't expect anything in return when I gift my friends :) .... Enjoy!"
Williams: "Well I sincerely appreciate the gift ... but I didn't expect that, and I don't want you to think I mentioned it so that you would get us a gift. That is a wonderful gift and we are very, very thankful."
On Sept. 18, Ali and Williams discussed the criminal case involving Ali's friend, according to the indictment.
Ali: "Boss man, sorry to bother you, remember a few months back I asked you if you can help with a case for a friend of my friends at [a Philadelphia] night club! They been asking me, and to be honest I was shy to ask you!!! He has a court tomorrow an he is looking at 1.5-3 years In Jail plus 6 years probation! Is there anything you can do for him. ... he regret it badly and he was begging me if he can get 1 year or so, so he can be in Philly prison not out of state. Believe me I feel bad asking you! Thank u Seth. This is his case info: [Case Number]. Feb 17th suppression hearing. [Person #1]."
Williams: "Was he already found guilty?"
Ali: "Yes he was! He pleaded guilty! And they gave him till tomorrow to take the deal which is 1.5 to 3 + 6 years probation."
Williams: "If he pleaded guilty, and from the sentence it seems that there is a mandatory sentence. There is very little I can do the day before without it looking extremely suspicious ..."
Ali: "Sorry Seth he just texted me, I'll text you what he just sent me: No not yet. My trial date is tomorrow. [Assistant District Attorney] offered me 1.5-3 years. I am trying to get a slightly better offer. 11.5-23 months. I have a very strong case for dismissal but if I don't get it I probably will get 5 yrs...." and "So he didn't plead guilty yet!"
Williams: "It seems like he has the possibility of having it thrown out or continued ... if it gets continued I will then ask for the file and see what can be done to make it a county sentence ..."
Ali: "Thank you Seth! I appreciate it. Ill let him know. Sorry again Seth."
Williams: "In the future always give me at least a week to help a friend ... I have no problem looking into anything ... I can't promise I will drastically change anything once it has gotten to the trial stage but I can always look into it[.]"
Ali: "You know I was hesitating to ask!!! I know you would help me but I wasn't sure if it's something that can bring suspicion, and this is the last thing I want To do to a friend like you Seth! I care about you, I want to see you the next mayor and the next governor and maybe the next president :)"