Sunday, December 20, 2015

Retired Philly Sheriff, Who Cultivated Image Of Helping Poor People Fend Off Foreclosure, Gets Bagged By Local Feds In Alleged Pay-To-Play Racket; Accused Of Steering Lucrative Foreclosure (Advertising/Title) Contracts (That Allegedly Imposed Onerous Fees On Homeowners) To Co-Conspirator In Exchange For Bribes (Disguised As Campaign Contributions, Gifts, Loans)

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Associated Press reports:
  • A former Philadelphia sheriff has been charged with taking bribes in an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving home foreclosures.

    The federal indictment unsealed Friday accuses ex-Sheriff John Green of taking bribes and illegal campaign contributions from businessman John Davis of Wyncote.

    Prosecutors say Davis contributed more than $200,000 to Green's 2007 campaign and gave him another $300,000 to in gifts and loans for his Florida retirement home. They say Green in exchange steered foreclosure contracts to Davis' advertising and title companies.

    Both men are charged with honest services fraud and conspiracy. Davis is also charged with tax violations. Green pleaded not guilty at a brief hearing Friday. His lawyer did not immediately return a message seeking comment. A working number for Davis or his firms could not immediately be determined and no lawyer is listed in court records.
Source: Retired sheriff, businessman indicted in pay-to-play case.

For the U.S. Attorney (Philadelphia) press release, see Former Philadelphia Sheriff And One Other Charged In Fraud Conspiracy.

See also, Cop, reformer, sheriff, defendant: John Green's rise and fall:
  • [Ex-Sheriff] Green's popularity grew as he cultivated an image of helping people fend off mortgage foreclosures. He held annual prayer breakfasts that were attended by top city politicians. On Sundays, Green would visit various churches to offer foreclosure assistance.

    In 2008, he made national headlines by refusing to hold a court-ordered foreclosure auction. That led to creation of a court program, still in effect, to help struggling homeowners in Philadelphia avoid foreclosure.

    Meanwhile, though, Green was taking "money that came out of the pockets of poor people who lost their homes," [City Controller Alan] Butkovitz said.

    John Dodds, head of the nonprofit Philadelphia Unemployment Project, called the foreclosure diversion program "very effective," and said Green deserved some credit.

    However, Dodds said, the Sheriff's Office imposed onerous fees on homeowners that benefited businessman James R. Davis Jr., who was indicted Friday with Green.

    For Butkovitz, concerns first emerged when his office attempted to conduct a routine audit and found Green's staff very uncooperative. "That constitutes red flags for potential fraud," the controller said.

    Butkovitz decided to pursue an exhaustive forensic audit conducted by a former federal prosecutor. Before the audit was completed, Green retired at the end of 2010 and moved to Florida. News of the federal investigation surfaced less than two months later.

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