Welcome home, Seth Williams!
Philadelphia’s former district attorney, last seen handcuffed and hauled out of a courtroom by U.S. Marshals to serve a five-year prison term for bribery, returned last week to finish his sentence under the supervision of a local residential reentry program.
Williams, incarcerated for most of the last three years in West Virginia, returns to the hometown where his once promising political career collapsed amid a series of personal scandals, federal charges and ethics inquiries in 2017.
The former top prosecutor’s release was not connected to a wider push by the Bureau of Prisons to thin their inmate populations to curb the spread of the coronavirus in federal lock-ups, his attorney Thomas F. Burke told Clout.
Though Williams’ sentence is not yet complete, one of the five years the judge imposed was shaved off of it for good behavior, and another for the drug treatment program he completed while incarcerated, prosecutors said. Like many federal inmates, Williams was eligible to serve out his final days in custody at a halfway house or under house arrest.
While the feds will keep Williams on a tight leash until his official Sept. 30 release date, he can now go out to work and for certain recreational purposes. But even afterward, he’s still facing three years of probation and a court-ordered restitution bill for tens of thousands of dollars.
At Williams’ 2017 sentencing, U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond verbally eviscerated the fallen prosecutor, calling him a “criminal” who “fed his face at the trough.”
By accepting gifts from businessmen seeking a leg-up in the courts and stealing money meant to cover his mother’s nursing home care, the judge said, Williams humiliated his employees and dumped his mom “like a sack of potatoes,” all to project a high-roller image to the “parasites [with whom he] surrounded himself.”
But now that federal lock-up is behind him, said Burke, Williams is “doing well.”
“He’s reconnecting with his family,” the lawyer said. "He even has some job prospects, which under normal circumstances he’d be able to pursue right now.”
Williams may not have been a beneficiary of the Bureau of Prisons coronavirus release program, but one other Philadelphia politico’s fate still hangs in limbo.
Former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Herbert Vederman had been told he was going to be released Monday from prison in Otisville, N.Y. to house arrest in West Palm Beach, Fla., his lawyers said in court filings last week. But then the Bureau of Prisons reconsidered, prompting his lawyers to seek court intervention.