Saturday, May 21, 2005

First Sentences Handed Down in Philadephia Corruption Trial

U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson imposed sentences on two defendants, both of whom entered guilty pleas, in connection with the Philadelphia corruption trial on Friday.  Former Philadelphia Treasurer Corey Kemp's pastor, the Rev. Francis McCracken, admitted that he and Kemp diverted $50,000 from a bank loan to his church for repairs after it was struck by lightening, that he set up a shell corporation to take funds from a federal welfare program, and not paying taxes on over $500,000 of income.  Judge Baylson sentenced Rev. McCracken, who is widely respected in the community for his work on behalf of the poor, to 30 months in prison.  A Philadelphia Inquirer story (here) quotes Rev. McCracken stating at the sentencing hearing: "Your Honor, I can't calculate how much I've given to others, in terms of food, in terms of recreational needs, how many allowances I've given to children, how much food, how much clothing. But please, Your Honor, rest assured that I put back into the church, back to the community and the church during the past 20 years, many times over what I took in this case."  The other defendant, Rhonda Anderson, agreed to cooperate early on in the government's investigation and received a term of two years probation.

The five defendants from the main corruption are awaiting sentencing, with Kemp and Janice Knight set for July 18, Detroit businessman La-Van Hawkins on Aug. 16, and former Commerce Bank executives Glenn K. Holck and Stephen M. Umbrell scheduled for Sept. 16.  While Rev. McCracken's conduct was largely unrelated to the corruption and perjury charges involving the five defendants, the substantial prison term imposed by Judge Baylson may well indicate that Kemp and the others will receive prison sentences, perhaps quite significant terms.  As the central character in the misconduct, Kemp will receive probably receive the longest term, followed by Holck and Umbrell because of their conviction for conspiring with Kemp to commit honest services fraud. (ph)

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