Philly prosecutor criticizes Dauphin County judge, defense attorney for delay in lawmaker bribery case

“Today, I announce the indictment of two sitting state representatives, Ron Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown,” Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said.

That was December 16, 2014, almost exactly three years ago. Ron Waters pleaded guilty and left the legislature.

Prosecutors accuse Brown of accepting $4,000 in bribes, even saying, “Oooh, good looking” and “Oooh, wee” to a wired informant as she took a payment.

Assistant Philly DA Mark Gilson stood behind Williams the day the charges were announced and is stunned Brown’s case has stalled in Dauphin County court.

“This politician, Brown, has been caught on tape taking bribes,” Gilson said by phone this week. “She’s confessed and admitted to these crimes under oath, yet she’s been allowed to remain in office and collect a public paycheck for the last three years.”

Gilson blames the delays on Brown’s attorney for numerous motions, some of which he calls ‘frivolous’. He also points a finger at Dauphin County Judge Scott Evans, who has overseen the case since the beginning.

“There’s been nothing but delay tactics in this case by the defense and for some reason, the judge, Evans, has allowed it to happen and I don’t know why,” Gilson said. “That’s a question you need to ask the judge.”

We did ask. Evans wouldn’t go on camera but did answer questions in his chambers. He said this case has had more than its share of unusual circumstances like the initial prosecutor, Williams, himself prosecuted in an unrelated case. Additionally, Evans said, there are currently only eight judges on the Dauphin County bench with an increased caseload.

In 2018, the complement will increase to 10 judges and that will ease the workload.

Finally, Evans said, he is confident, barring more bizarre circumstances, that the Brown case will finally go to trial in early 2018. It’s scheduled for Jan. 8.

Brown’s attorney, Patrick A. Casey of Scranton, did not return several calls seeking comment.

Gilson is no longer on the prosecution team. The Dauphin County district attorney’s office is now solely handling Brown’s prosecution.

Gilson did offer this perspective about the delays.

“It took three months for Seth Williams to be brought to trial by federal authorities following his arrest because the judge made it so. It’s been over three years since Vanessa Brown’s been charged and still has not been brought to trial,” he said. “The thing that troubles me is this: where are demands for Vanessa Brown’s resignation from fellow politicians? Other politicians have been forced to resign based on far less.”

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