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Williams Will Not Fire Fina or Costanzo

frank finaEver since the infamous pornographic emails were revealed, everyone in Pennsylvania has been wondering what Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams would do to those involved who worked in his office.

Today, we got the answer. Nothing.

At roughly 4:30 on the Friday before Labor Day weekend (the perfect time for a news dump) Seth Williams released a statement to the press.

Williams concluded that since the activity did not take place during the time they worked for him, the men involved (Frank Fina, Marc Costanzo and Pat Blessington) would not be fired.

The DA also noted in his statement that Attorney General Kane had promoted rather than fired one of her employees who was involved in the distribution of the emails.

So despite the protests, just like Kane, Seth Williams is sticking by his people regardless of their conduct.

The rivalry between Kane and Fina has been the impetus behind this entire saga, yet so far both remain duly employed public officials of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Williams’ full statement is included below:

I’ve looked at the e-mails released, and yes, like everyone else, I could see immediately that they are offensive. They contain numerous graphic images with captions that are derogatory towards women, a few that have racist connotations, and a smaller number with negative comments about gays. As the father of three daughters, as an African-American, as a law enforcement official, I was disappointed, and angry, that these messages were considered acceptable.

As I began my review, I found that many people I talked to in the community over the last few weeks didn’t know all the facts – they assumed from press reports that hundreds of e-mails were released, and that they were generated by a small group of employees here in my office.

I take my responsibilities in this situation with gravity. The easiest reaction would have been just to fire anyone named in the press, without any inquiry. Instead I assembled my senior staff, consisting of blacks and whites, women and men, and we carried out a thorough process to make sure I got all the information necessary to make serious decisions.

In choosing what, if any, action to take, I considered my obligations. The first is to my conscience – to make the best decision possible. The second is to the citizens of Philadelphia – they deserve wise, well-reasoned actions by their elected officials, especially the chief law enforcement officer. The third is to the very hard-working women and men who seek justice every day as my colleagues in the District Attorney’s Office. Finally, I have an obligation to the subject individuals – to fair and individualized treatment.

My process had several elements. The three employees in question – Pat Blessington, Marc Costanzo, and Frank Fina – were individually interviewed by a panel. We also questioned people they worked for, people they worked with, and people who worked for them, both in the District Attorney’s Office and in the Attorney General’s Office. We reviewed all e-mail communications still available from their time in my employment. We looked at the work of the Philadelphia investigating grand jury assigned to the “sting” case, which reviewed internal documents from the current attorney general’s office relating to charges of racism, and which heard testimony from employees of the current attorney general. I personally contacted and spoke with prosecutors and other elected officials around the country, with Fortune 500 executives, and with leaders of non-profits and community groups.

We found that none of the e-mails in question were created or originated by these three employees, and none were circulated to or by them while employed in my office. The large majority of the released e-mails – there are 20 altogether – date from five to six years ago. They were part of address chains covering literally hundreds of employees in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, who received and radiated the same images in widening circles.

None of those hundreds of employees – who were colleagues of the three prosecutors now working in my office – were ever disciplined for improper e-mail activity during the years in question, either by the previous or by the present attorney general. At least one AG employee, who served as a central hub for the e-mail distributions and who continued those activities even after the current AG took office, has actually been promoted and given a substantial raise.

We found no evidence or suggestion of any inappropriate e-mail behavior by these three employees during their time to date in my office, but if we did I would certainly terminate them.

We found that the derogatory elements appearing in the attorney general e-mail chains were not reflected in the work relationships of the three specific employees who have been the focus of the attorney general’s filings. On the contrary, the employers, employees, and colleagues with whom we spoke – and who included both women and blacks – described these employees as hardworking, dedicated prosecutors who were never disrespectful to them as females or minorities.

We reviewed the findings of the Philadelphia grand jury investigating the “sting” case. Before deciding whether charges were appropriate, the grand jurors, who represent the diversity of Philadelphia’s citizens, examined public claims that the original “sting” investigation was the product of racism on the part of the prosecutors now employed in my office. The grand jurors had access to internal documents generated under the current attorney general, and heard sworn testimony from many of the individuals who were involved in the original investigation. The grand jurors concluded that allegations of racism against these prosecutors “were simply false.”

Finally, I have spoken to the employees in question myself, face to face. I believe they have regret and remorse for the conduct of which they were a part. They recognize that the e-mail chains in which they participated were demeaning, unprofessional, and wrong.

In an ordinary situation, I would not publicly discuss these matters of employee conduct, but I recognize that we are not in an ordinary situation. So, I have described our process and conclusions, but will not broach the confidentiality of internal deliberations and discussions.

Under all the circumstances, I have chosen awareness and education over termination and am directing these employees to attend sensitivity training. Insensitivity often has its genesis in unfamiliarity. That’s why diversity is so important. I have worked to make sure that my office reflects the diversity of the city we serve. We have strong human relations policies, more African American attorneys than any law firm in the Commonwealth, and as many women as men both in the ranks and in leadership positions. In the year 2015, the times of winking at racism, sexism, or homophobia are over. On my watch, I won’t tolerate it.

63 Responses

  1. Oh boy. Daily News Editorial Board is now calling Seth Williams out. They make some good points:

    One they forgot:

    When Williams says: “The large majority of the released emails – there are 20 altogether – date from five to six years ago,” he leaves out that Fina and Costanzo have been engaged in a massive cover-up to keep them silent for the last two years. They got “Court Orders” that prohibited Kane from releasing the e-mails. Rumor has it that they actually introduced them in from of a Grand Jury so that they would be considered “secret” Grand Jury material.

    Seth needs to answer some questions — namely the ones put forth by Philadelphia Magazine in their article. When did Seth Williams know about this material? When did he know there was racise, homophobic material in those e-mails? Did he know when he hired them?

  2. “re-establishment” … LOL … is that what you people are calling that illegal war … OK … whatever …

    But this article is about Seth Williams and his decision to keep a racist … not an anti-Semite. Do you have evidence that Fina and Costanzo are anti-Semites? If not – STFU … and take your pro-Israel nonsense someplace else.

  3. @ DD [reply]:

    1) “You don’t recall relevant items.” What did you write about Cynthia Baldwin?

    2) “You think everyone who doesn’t advocate genocide in Gaza is anti-Semitic.” No, that designation is directed @ yourself, as evidenced by your admission [after lotsa back-and-forth] that you feel Israel’s re-establishment on 5/15/2948 was a Nakba [“catastrophe”] as do the Islamists.

  4. Robert Sklaroff-

    1) You don’t recall relevant items.

    2) You think everyone who doesn’t advocate genocide in Gaza is anti-Semitic.

  5. Neither party is without faults. Big cities tend to be D for obvious reasons. Williams and Kane actually have a lot in common. Both will be taken down because of Frank Fina.

    Williams had a choice. He knew Fina was bad news. But he took him on and crossed his fingers. Now that it has blown up in his face, he really needs to take a close look at whether the “press play” was worth it … whether this Kane fued will pay off for him.

    All Williams needed to do was stay out of the Kane-Fina mess and he would have been fine (well … except for the Federal investigation and all).

  6. Williams is just latest example of the corrupt Philly Dems. Like Brady and Rendell they would prevent an open primary where Dem voters choose a presidential candidate rather than the Philly Dem garbage machine. Kane is a symptom- Williams is the problem. Who is the jack ass the Dem symbol or those of us who have tolerated this kind of malarky?

  7. Bishop and Brown are both planning to go to trial and they will not be tried together. Word is Ali is no longer in the country, so I wonder who in the world will authenticate the recordings? Even if Ali feels compelled to return to testify, why would he Fina gave him a get out of jail free card, who would believe him since he took all that money off the elderly and poor children.

    It would seem that Unger is on to something with the motivations of the prosecutors, Seth and Fina, they are abusing their position and bringing politically motivated prosecutions. If the Supreme Court had any legitimacy they would assign its own special prosecutor to look into Seth and Fina to determine if they have violated the rules of professional responsibility?

    The sting trials are going to be must see TV. If I defended Bishop or Brown I would parade every former AG and prosecutor before the jury and ask them why they didn’t prosecute (Corbett, Kelly, Kane the FBI, the U.S. Attorney). Plus if Fina tries to authenticate the recordings he will have to defend his racism, homophobia and pornogrophy to a mixed race Dauphin County jury who is aware that he slow walked Sandusky because the assistant AG that wanted charges filed a year earlier was a woman.

    I will take off from work and indulge in Carmel popcorn for these trials.

  8. I am asking some questions. I really am befuddled so these questions are not being rhetorical.

    How did DA Williams get to quote the extensive information he speaks of from the Grand Jury in the sting case?

    If grand Jury testimony is secret why is he able to quote this testimony in defense of his actions regarding his decisions about his own employees without being charged with leaking grand jury information?

    I would like to know the difference between his and AG Kane’s actions. Wouldn’t the indictment of the Grand Jury seem to indicate only that they found probable cause to indict, but wouldn’t the actual testimony still be secret?

    And wouldn’t implying that it contained evidence about emails be a far stretch from the information needed to indict the defendants for bribery?

    Wouldn’t the inference that email evidence involving the prosecutors was presented be extraneous to the indictment for bribery?

    As I am not an attorney I really would like some answers.

  9. Marilyn – So there are two “legislative sting case defendants who did not take the “slap on the wrist” deals? If so, are they going to trial together? They are in Dauphin Co., right?

    The D.A.’s Office in Philadelphia made those arrests with NO INTENTION of ever going to trial. That is not how a prosecutor’s office is supposed to run. In fact, it is not ethical to bring charges you do not think you can win just to use as leverage against a public figure. That seems like what Williams and Fina did here.

    It is too nuanced for the “average joe” to understand. They read “conviction” and assume a legitimate, successful prosecution. But there are other facts to consider: All of the targets were Black. Fina, being a racist, can argue all he wants that it’s a coincidence, but that won’t work now.

    Additionally, the government’s star witness is a criminal way worse than the Black politicians targeted by Fina. Mr. Ali stole $400,00.00 from a non-profit set up to help children. When Fina found him, he was sitting in jail facing hundreds of criminal charges. Now, post Fina, he has no charges pending. They were all dropped. Fina let Ali keep the $400,000.00 he stole from the non-profit. And he gave him $90,000.00 (according to press reports) of taxpayer money to use on fancy Philadelphia restaurants.

    Perhaps there are video recordings – taken by agents – of these politicians taking money and committing crimes. Because if there aren’t, Ali will have to be believed by a jury. For Seth Williams’ sake, I hope there are.

    The “sting” trial(s) may be more entertaining than the Kane trial.

  10. elroy – You are 100% correct. I completely forgot about the Ryan e-mail purge. These creeps are going down!!!

  11. So Vanessa Brown looks really smart for not taking Seth’s offer to slap her on the wrist. I give her and Bishop credit for standing up to the bullies Fina and Seth. I can’t wait to see Fina on the stand having to answer for his racism, sexism and homophobia in open court! Brown now is in a position to hire a bigtime firm to defend her and get her an acquittal. What will Seth do if Brown and Bishop walk because Fina racially targeted them like the U.S. Attorney and several former AG’s concluded. The theater is compelling and I prefer butter on my popcorn.

  12. One reason I carry along prior hyperlinks is to facilitate recall of relevant loose-ends; one is the behavior of Cynthia Baldwin, as was summarized in a Wikipedia entry.

    Along with reminding readers of DD’s anti-Semitism, I have been surprised at the silence of otherwise outspoken self – professed savants; the Wikipedia entry is incomplete, as per Harrisburg Patriot-News reports, and it seems the noisy anti-FF fanatics cannot place this concern into their ideological paradigm.

    She not only attended the depos, but she also failed to ensure that the Board had been apprised thereof; what am I missing?

  13. Hey Frank — the heat is about to get turned up on you in a MAJOR WAY. Get ready to be in that witness box.

  14. It’s awesome. Fina’s grand juries are like the puppet sitting on the guy’s lap on-stage. Fina just has to move his right hand a little and the puppet says something. Luckily, there isn’t a Court in this State who will respect this guy now. And he will have to wear a disguise in front of a Philadelphia jury (if he ever goes to Court … does he??)

    If stuff likes this keeps coming out, Trump may consider him for a DOJ post in his bigoted Repervlican administration:

    Fina’s group of faux motivational posters included an image of a white man, carrying a bucket of fried chicken, being accosted by two deranged-looking black men. The caption – “Bravery at its finest.”

    One of Fina’s few pictures of a clothed female showed a woman wearing a T-shirt emblazoned: “WIFE: Washing, Ironing, F**ing, Etc.” That caption – “PLACE: Know it!”

    How friggin’ bigoted is he?

  15. The Sandusky case review ordered by Attorney General Kane was delayed by the actions of Acting Attorney General William Ryan. If you recall, Ryan ordered the destruction of 20 million emails located on computers within the Office of the Attorney General. This happened soon after Tom Corbett was elected Governor.

    Seth Williams stated that he “reviewed all email communications “STILL” available from their time in my employment.” Why doesn’t Williams hire a computer expert to check his computer system for the emails that were “NOT” available from their time in his employment?

    Fina & company certainly know how to destroy emails.

    Wiliams reported Grand Jury finding in his review of the Fina fiasco. Was any part of the Willams’ Grand Jury investigation considered on behalf of Fina and company an infraction of Grand Jury secrecy rules?

  16. LOL @ Ted Cruz.

    He does look sleazy. And he is sleazy. Just look at his behavior in the Sandusky case. He lets Sandusky remain a free man to rape some more. Then he lets a PSU witness testify unrepresented putting that case in jeopardy. Then he goes on TV to talk about the strength of the case … which he knows is unethical under the Rules of Ethics.

    He still needs to explain why he deep-sixed the Mondesire investigation. Illegally leaked or not, Fina dropped the ball. Was it on purpose? His new boss, Williams, is supposed to be very tight with Mondesire.

    Here’s the article:

  17. rsklaroff-

    The provides a history of all your right-wing, bigoted, tea-party nonsense. Your support of Ted Cruz speaks volumes.

  18. Chickensh*t Williams tries to bury his cowardice in the Friday afternoon news dump. What rape victim wants Freakie Frankie to be prosecuting her/his case? Oh that’s right, rape prosections are at a ten-year low under Williams, so I guess that really doesn’t matter. Fina must really have Seth by the short hairs, to spout this “sensitivity training” tripe.

  19. @ DD:

    This site provides an “institutional memory” of all your errors, past and present; furthermore, by having seen AG-Kane’s defense neutralized, the Supremes can now [properly] act by noting the clear distinction between conjuring-motives and committing-felonies.

  20. DD – Yes. I don’t know what Mr. Retzlaff was talking about. If anything, the decision not to fire Fina and Costanzo right now will help Kane. After all – they used their work computers to distribute racist material on the taxpayers’ dime. If the Supreme Court acts on Kane and not Fina/Costanzo, it will play right into her defense. Two sets of rules. One for the Repervlicans who think Blacks will commit felonies (Robbery) for fried chicken and who think a wife’s place is in the home – ironing and cleaning and f-cking. And another set of rules for the person who threats to expose the Repervlicans.

    Wonder if Fina realized that he was inviting all this negative attention when he started his smear campaign on Kane. If not – he is not as smart as he thinks he is.

    Someone mentioned City Council moving to remove Fina and Costanzo. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen.

  21. Sooth – didn’t Brown plead guilty?

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see the “sting” defendants move to withdraw their pleas since they were not given mandatory discovery material … namely the fact that the lead investigators/prosecutors are racists.

    Can’t wait until the “sting” trial. Will have my POPCORN ready!!!!

  22. Beware the union hacks who call for the jobs of only the 2 racist misogynists they accuse of helping the implosion of their former queen Kane, but who also refuse repeated opportunities to do the same for unionized “civil servants” who lurk in the hallways with their feminine and minority coworkers.

    Their’s is a fake political correctness that tells women and blacks to deal with the known racist misogynistic discriminators in their midst.

    Until they are purged, all the AG’s cases will be tainted the same way the accusers say Fina’s are, but they still cannot betray the unions who protect this abhorrent behavior. Don’t be conned by the “outrage” of these hypocritical hacks. The Democrat machine doesn’t care about you.

  23. rsklaroff-

    No one, especially me, clicks back through your links to old threads. You really love to live in the past. Guess that’s why you are part of the old-white-men tea-party.

    Who’s going to promote Fina or hire him after this? Pornhub?

    The FBI’s coming for Seth over his campaign finances, so he won’t be able to protect Fina much longer.

    How are “the Supremes are now cleared to act accordingly”?? Nothing Seth does has any impact on them.

  24. @ HaHaHa:

    Perhaps the workload for DD will be so extensive as to mandate that you pitch-in to assist him; the hyperlink thread goes back into 2014….

  25. @ DD:

    Quoting Mark Twain [sorta]: “Reports of the death [of FF’s career] have been exaggerated.”

    Stripping-away your customary hyperbolic phraseology, the game is over for AG-Kane’s limp rationalizations; the Supremes are now cleared to act accordingly.

    You may now commence preparing [and stop procrastinating] regarding the mea-culpa compilation of your errors; feel free to trace-backwards via the hyperlink-threads that I’ve carefully maintained on this website, to ensure completeness.

  26. rsklaroff-

    This is still playing out. Williams keeping Fina shows the special privileges/relationships in the old boys club. The Daily News wrote a piece that said the emails support the idea that these guys aren’t interested in working with a woman who’s fully clothed.

    Key line from Seth’s statement: “We reviewed all e-mail communications still available from their time in my employment.”

    This carefully worded statement implies that there is email no longer available for review. Fina’s had months to delete, or switched to private/personal email for this sort of stuff.

    What’s going to happen next time a case comes up that Fina’s in charge of? Defense attorney wet-dream.

  27. Pavoter – Yep. You were right. Williams will regret this move. And his Friday afternoon “statement” is a hack move.

  28. Montco – I believe they could. But, remember that there are a ton of folks who are worried about their own past behavior when it comes to e-mails.

    IMHO – Seth Williams just solidified himself as Lynne Abraham 2 … a politician who will never get past his current (low-level) position.

    Just wait until Kane starts releasing some of the other e-mails ….

  29. Mr. Field – Why do you keep referring to racist and misogynistic material as “pornographic.”

    Frank – Enjoy your sensitivity training … and being laughed at everywhere you go. Can’t wait until your first trial in Philadelphia. Wait … will there be any trials … At the very least, Peruto will subpoena you on the Bishop case. POPCORN will be ready!!

  30. @ DD:

    Now that your conjured-rationalization for AG-Kane’s misconduct has played-out, are you yet prepared to recant/repent?

  31. Seth Williams is a hypocritical asshole and a joke of the first order. Bye bye Seth. Your brand of Philly justice is what the city and the state don’t need. Enjoy your last two years in office, jackass.

  32. Since Philadelphia taxpayer money is funding the continued employment of Fina & Co., wouldn’t City Council be justified in holding hearings to look into this? I’d think there are plenty of city council members who’d want to know what’s going on here.

  33. Unfortunately, this isn’t a big surprise. But karma has a way of going around and, if we are lucky, we will all get to see their downfall v

  34. Hate to say I told you so, but, I told you so. Anybody who knows what Seths about could have called this. And of course it was obvious days ago this announcement was going to be dropped on the public late on a Friday afternoon with a press release, especially this Friday before the long weekend. But he’s done anyway, seth has investigations flying at him from all directions. Something’s gonna stick. He also probably knew fina and costanza had enough dirt on him that he couldn’t do the right thing here anyway. But his career is toast now anyway. A lot of potential just flushed.

  35. Did Fina offer to bring Seth a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken every week, if he could keep his job?

  36. It is, however, very good news for Vanessa Brown. It virtually guarantees that her case will never go to trial. Can you imagine if did…

  37. Unbelievable. Williams once had a promising career. He has just flushed it down the toilet, which somehow seem appropriate.

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