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Brownlee Fourth to Plead Guilty in Sting Case

Seth WilliamsThe tally of guilty pleas in a Philadelphia bribery case has now reached four.

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.

11 Responses

  1. Not one of these “sting-case” defendants is going to jail. All of them get to keep their pensions. Like DA Williams said – this is more of a “press play” than it is a criminal prosecution.

    Now we know why the Attorney General’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office said “NO THANKS” to Frank Fina’s sting case.

    Fina still needs to explain why he dropped all the charges pending against Ali and let that con-man thief keep the $400,000.00 he stole from a non-profit set up to help children.

  2. and Mr. Ali walks away with $400,000 in state monies and the discharge of 2,000 counts of corruption. These are admirable convictions.

  3. The issue isn’t corruption? Someone send MontcoPAdem a newspaper? And if you’re talking incompetent prosecutors, how about the AG who encouraged this kind of behavior to continue? Doesn’t get more demonstrably incompetent than that.

    BTW, EPA says fracking has been carried out with an exceptional safety rating.


  4. I see absolutely no difference between the public officials targeted in Fina’s Fustercluck and the scores of Harrisburg lawmakers who have been showered with money from the fracking industry and in turn granted them a free ride to rip up great chunks of the Commonwealth with virtually no accountability. In fact, there’s probably more-provable quid pro quo among the frack-backers than there was in the sorry crew that Fina was chasing. The issue here isn’t corruption, which is widespread and rampant, depending on your definition of the term.

    The issue is incompetent prosecutors and Frank Fina is Exhibit A.

  5. Elroy:

    Just stop. Public corruption is significantly more important than porn emails.

  6. Thank you again Frank Fina. You are a true Hero to us law abiding citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  7. Better than the deal Kathleen Kane gave her: keep your position of esteem, your presumption of innocence, your good name, and ensure Philadelphia remains crooked.

  8. Gee, give the money back. Pay a $3,500 “fine” and no jail time. Christmas came early.

  9. Lizzy,
    The story is missing the contribution of Mr. Ali and the prosecutors who developed the sting.

    Please report the DA’s treatment of Mr. Ali and the prosecutors who are involved in the porno scam. Have any of them resigned their jobs, paid fines and accepted probation?

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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