Share This Page

Judge send Pennsylvania state Sen. Washington's corruption charges to trial

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:39 p.m.

ABINGTON — Pennsylvania state prosecutors won a first step on Wednesday in their corruption case against state Sen. Leanna Washington, securing a judge's ruling that they have enough evidence for a trial on charges that Washington crossed the line when she allegedly ordered taxpayer-paid employees to organize an annual “birthday party” political fundraiser.

For eight years, Washington pressured her Senate staff to devote weeks to drawing up guest lists that included city and state officials, creating invitations and taking money from invitees that ultimately went to Washington's campaign account, prosecutors say.

They also allegedly used taxpayer-paid computers, copiers and office supplies.

District Judge John Kessler ruled that testimony from one of Washington's former employees, Jamila Hall, was strong enough to allow the case to go to trial. In a grand jury presentment issued with the charges March 12, prosecutors listed seven current or former employees or interns, including Hall, who said they witnessed or carried out tasks to organize the fundraisers.

Washington, 68, declined comment after the two-hour hearing at Kessler's Montgomery County office. Washington, a Democrat who represents parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, is running for a third full term this year.

The charges against Washington include one count each of theft of services and conflict of interest, both felonies.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.