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Ex-Philly DA’s Mid-Trial Plea Shows Fear Of Lengthy Sentence

June 30, 2017

Law360
By Dan Packel

Former Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams read the writing on the wall with Thursday’s surprise guilty plea to one count of violating Pennsylvania bribery law eight days into his federal trial, which was likely motivated by the realization he couldn’t overcome damning evidence in the case and the fear of an exorbitant prison sentence, experts say.

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“You can cross-examine a person, but you can’t cross-examine a document,” said Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP partner Mark Sheppard, who earlier this year successfully defended Pennsylvania state Sen. Larry Farnese against federal corruption charges. “You’ve got to play the cards that were dealt you.”

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“It was shaping up like Seth was going to have to testify, otherwise the government was going to explain it for him,” Sheppard added.

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