Rep. Michelle Brownlee, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to a conflict of interest charge on Monday, admitting that she accepted $2,000 cash from an undercover informant in exchange for official acts. The informant, Tyron B. Ali, posed as a lobbyist who got special access to Brownlee’s office in exchange for the money.
Brownlee was sentenced to 18 months probation and has agreed to resign the House seat she’s held since 2010. Dauphin County Judge Scott Evans also ordered her to pay $2,000 in restitution and $3,500 to cover the cost of her prosecution.
Brownlee’s trial is the latest development in an ongoing sting case launched by the Philadelphia Attorney General’s Office in 2010, under then-attorney general Tom Corbett. The case was first brought to public attention by the Philadelphia Inquirer in March 2014, who reported that current Attorney General Kathleen Kane shut the operation down in 2013.
According to the Inquirer, Kane closed the case because it was poorly conceived and tainted by racism. The case was picked up by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.
Brownlee joins three Philadelphia lawmakers who have entered guilty pleas in the sting case. Rep. Ron Waters, D-Philadelphia, and ex-Rep Harold James, D-Philadelphia, pleaded guilty last week to accepting money from Ali. Thomasine Tynes, former president judge of traffic court, also entered a guilty plea for conflict of interest, admitting that she accepted a $2,000 bracelet from Ali.
Rep. Vanessa Brown withdrew her guilty plea last week and will head to trial in July. Rep. Louisa Bishop, D-Philadelphia, has also chosen to fight the charges of bribery and conflict of interest.