Sinatra was playing, the Scotch was flowing and the man of the evening, our high-living, hard-to-pin-down district attorney, was patting the stogie stuffed into his suit breast pocket - a Perdomo Champagne, his favored brand of the moment - and happily working the crowd.

The setting was the posh Ashton Cigar Bar.

The occasion was a fund-raiser: the 2016 Seth Williams Cigar Event.

In the smoky air hung an obvious question: "Who would give money to this man?"

This is our district attorney, after all. The one whose personal and political finances are currently the focus of a joint FBI-IRS probe. Who, with the feds on his back, suddenly remembered this summer to disclose $160,500 in previously unreported gifts - five years worth of tropical trips and gift cards and other goodies from defense attorneys, friends and donors, including a $45,000 roof from a donor from Jersey. Whose girlfriend has been criminally charged for stabbing the tires of his city-owned vehicles. That guy.

At his cigar soiree Thursday evening, Williams at first demurred from discussing the self-inflicted scandals bedeviling his reelection bid. He was among friends, he said, enjoying his party. Send questions to his aides.

And that's how it's been with Williams lately.

Yes, he's never long away from Twitter. His feed updates daily with smiling selfies from travels around the city - at anti-bullying school talks, gun-lock giveaway and other noble events. But you can't be an effective district attorney - you can't effectively lead the city's criminal justice conversation - when you're running from questions you can't afford to answer.

Feel free to mingle, Williams told me.

In keeping with the locale, suggested contributions were broken into three categories: Cohiba ($250) for the big spenders, Macanudo ($150) for midlevel donors, and Romeo y Julieta ($75) for those who could only give a little something.

The night was still young, but only about two-dozen Seth supporters puffed on cigars, sipped cocktails and noshed on the trays of pasta, salad and sliced bread.

His supporters were not too interested in talking about his troubles. The only chatty guy was Jerry Ehrlich from LawyerUpPhilly.com.

The city needs more people like Seth Williams, Ehrlich said, chomping on an unlit cigar. He called the scandals surrounding Seth "nonsense" and a barnyard epithet unprintable in full.

"I consider him a friend first," Jerry said, of Williams. "If I call him and say I need your help, I can depend on him. If I need something, I can rely on him."

With all the gift giving isn't that exactly the fear? That our district attorney could be for sale?

More unprintable words. Gifts are just a thing men do for each other, Jerry said, dismissively: "Friends do things for friends."

Sounds great. Get him on the stump, Seth.

I went back to my table and finished my Romeo y Julieta, pondering the Shakespearean passion that would make one want to stab a tire. After a while, Williams had changed his mind. He came over. He wanted to talk.

At first, he circled back to the apology he had released in August about the overlooked gifts: he said his transparency went above and beyond.

"I am very apologetic to my supporters, my employees and to my friends to the citizens of Philadelphia for having accepted gifts because of the appearance of impropriety," he said. "While nothing I did was illegal it still has the air, I guess, I understand, of impropriety."

He downplayed the thousands in free stuff - "gifts from longtime friends," including the Rolex watch that he called his "birthday and Christmas gift for the next three years."

No favors were promised to anyone, he said. He would not be accepting gifts anymore.

While he wanted to talk, he did not want to talk about his troubles.

He preferred to list the good his office does for people - the reduction in backlogged cases, the community-based prosecution, the diversionary programs and anticrime initiatives that have all been a hallmark of his terms.

And that's what the most disappointing. His office has done a lot of good. You talk to those who know him, and they say his heart's right. That he wants to help the city. But his personal failings have embarrassed his office, and damaged his credibility. Likely for good.

And Seth Williams doesn't want to talk about that.

"I look forward to the opportunity to defend my record as the district attorney," he said.

Then the district attorney went back to his party.

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