DISTRICT ATTORNEY Seth Williams, due in federal court yesterday to defend himself in a lawsuit over the alleged theft of intellectual property, decided to settle the case instead.
For a Twitter feud, this got pretty ugly.
Photographer R. Bradley Maule, of PhillySkyline.com, complained in the July 2013 lawsuit that a photo used as background for Williams' official Twitter account was pilfered from his website.
Williams, in a Dec. 30 deposition, said that Maule's attorney, J. Conor Corcoran, asked him about the photo during a 2013 primary Election Day lunch at the Famous 4th Street Deli.
Williams was not at all pleased with that chat and a follow-up phone call from Corcoran that he called an attempt to "shake me down over some silly picture."
See, Williams saw himself as the victim in this "photo caper."
"Unfortunately, there's a lot of human nature that there are people who prey on elected officials, people that they think are trying to do good," Williams explained in the deposition.
Instead, Williams went on, Maule could probably benefit from telling people the district attorney was using his picture.
Another deposition that day made clear an employee at the D.A.'s office installed Maule's picture on Williams' Twitter account after finding it with a Google search for "Philadelphia skyline."
The employee said she worked on the Twitter account during her lunch break, not while being paid by the District Attorney's Office.
Corcoran later emailed Anthony Twardowski, Williams' lawyer, and suggested the use of a city employee "for his own personal political pursuits" on Twitter might be a legal problem.
Twardowski, in an emailed response, called that "baseless and extortionate threats" in an "effort to strong-arm a settlement."
Twardowski also said Williams had reported Corcoran's "groundless threats" to the state Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office and was considering reporting him to the judge overseeing the lawsuit.
Twardowski declined to comment about that exchange and yesterday added this: "All I can say is the case has been settled."
Corcoran went further, throwing one more sharp elbow at Williams, who is known to name-drop his prosecution of a Catholic Church child sex-abuse case.
"When faced with the intellectual property claims of R. Bradley Maule, the District Attorney folded like the morals of the Catholic Church," Corcoran said.
32nd Ward fight rages on
Former Municipal Judge Jimmie Moore says he will sue the Democratic City Committee for overturning what he calls his election last week as leader of North Philly's 32nd Ward.
His lawyer, Larry Otter, says the lawsuit may be filed as soon as today in federal court.
Moore challenged ward leader Gary Williams' bid for a third term. They agree that the first vote ended in a 20-20 tie.
Williams and Moore agree that Moore narrowly won a second vote during the ward meeting.
Tie votes are supposed to go directly to the Democratic City Committee's Contest Committee. The full Democratic City Committee voted Monday that Williams would have prevailed 21-20 because a committeewoman wanted to change her vote.
Moore, who ran against U.S. Rep. Bob Brady in 2012 but dropped out of the race before the Democratic primary election, said he sees himself as the rightfully elected ward leader.
"I'm going to have a ward meeting Monday," Moore said. "I'm going to continue on with ward business."
Williams is not impressed.
"Jimmie Moore can do whatever the hell Jimmie Moore wants to do," he said. "I'm the ward leader. That's the bottom line."
Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, said the quadrennial election of ward leaders was mostly peaceful.
"This was easy," Brady said. "We only had two or three fights. Usually we have more."
Quotable vs. Quotable:
"To Mr. Wolf, you should know that Philadelphia is not alone in our outrage over Gov. Corbett's cuts to public education. To Mr. Wolf, we say the commonwealth deserves more. Our schools deserve more." - City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, speaking yesterday about Tom Wolf, the Democratic nominee for governor and Gov. Corbett while introducing legislation to borrow $30 million to help fund the Philadelphia School District.
"It's unfortunate that Majority Whip Reynolds Brown would join Secretary Tom Wolf in perpetuating lies about Gov. Corbett's commitment to education." - Chris Pack, communications director for Corbett's campaign, referring to Wolf's former title as state revenue secretary under then-Gov. Ed Rendell.