In North Philadelphia, sandwiches and cold beers were on hand during a salute to former Sheriff John Green, who is going to prison Monday on a five-year sentence after admitting to collecting more than $675,000 in bribes and kickbacks.
About 15 friends and former colleagues quietly celebrated Green Saturday night at the Guardian Civic League, an association of black police officers founded in 1956. Former state Rep. Harold James, who was among those in attendance, said the group wanted to show its appreciation for Green’s career of public service.
“Of course any donations would be welcome. He did a lot for minority police officers,” James said. “Any money raised will go to his family, because he lost his pension.”
Green, 71, who held the office from 1988 to 2010 and was the longest-serving sheriff in Philadelphia history, admitted to charges that included bribes in the form of hidden campaign donations and income for his wife in exchange for $35 million in no-bid work given to James R. Davis, a businessman who became the office’s largest vendor.
It’s unclear if Rochelle Bilal, who defeated the current sheriff Jewell Williams in the Democratic primary and has no opponent in the Nov. 5 general election, attended the gathering after promoting it earlier this week on Facebook. As The Inquirer reported Friday, Bilal ran on a pledge to reform the sheriff’s office, which has long been associated with scandal.
“He was instrumental in ensuring people who look like me got the opportunity to do this job,” Bilal wrote on the group’s Facebook page in a post that has since been deleted. “We understand he made a mistake, but it will not take away from him the good things he has done for a lot of people.”
Bilal declined to comment for this story.
While The Inquirer was not permitted inside during the Guardian Civic League event, several attendees praised the former sheriff outside the organization’s office on Girard Avenue.
“It’s a shameful situation. He put his trust in the wrong people, and they took advantage of him,” said John King, who said he worked with Green at the Philadelphia Police Department. Greg Nicholas, another former police colleague, said Green was “basically a good person who got caught up in something bad.”