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Pennsylvania lawmaker pleads guilty in state corruption probe
June 8, 2015 / 5:43 PM / 2 years ago

Pennsylvania lawmaker pleads guilty in state corruption probe

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A third Pennsylvania lawmaker accused of accepting funds for political favors pleaded guilty on Monday to corruption charges as a result of a controversial sting operation that netted only black suspects, according to local media reports.

State Representative Michelle Brownlee was sentenced to 18 months of probation after she pleaded guilty to one count of violating state conflict of interest law, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

An attorney for Brownlee could not immediately be reached for comment.

Five representatives and a traffic court judge were charged in the corruption case, which state Attorney General Kathleen Kane brought to a halt last year, citing racial profiling and poor case management.

But Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he found enough evidence to back the charges and reopened the case.

All the suspects charged are black Democrats, as is Williams.

Charges were brought against the group after an investigation that used a confidential informant, who recorded exchanges with the six.

Brownlee was charged with accepting $2,000 from the informant, the Inquirer reported.

Last week, state representatives Ronald Waters and Harold James pleaded guilty to felony conflict of interest charges for accepting funds in exchange for political favors, Williams' office said in a statement.

Waters was sentenced to 23 months of probation and ordered to pay restitution for receiving $8,750 in exchange for voting against specific legislation and promising to get a job for a friend of the informant.

James, who accepted $750 for offering to sell services to the informant, was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay restitution.

A former top Philadelphia traffic court judge, Thomasine Tynes, has pleaded guilty to bribery, conflict of interest and conspiracy charges.

Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Mohammad Zargham

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