FBI, State Police Investigate Williams Campaign Contribution
The Seth Williams for District Attorney campaign suffered another setback with news that federal and state investigators are looking into a campaign contribution linked to convicted mob attorney Gregory Quigley.
The authorities are investigating why the donation was made on behalf of a defunct organization, The Italian American Benevolent Society, and whether someone other than Mr. Quigley, who was involved with the society, was behind the contribution.
Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI are questioning the origins of the Quigley donation. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, a state police source familiar with the gambling investigation tied to Mr. Quigley said, "We’re certainly curious about whose money it was."
A Philadelphia attorney, Mr. Quigley was indicted last year by Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett as part of an organized crime investigation, and convicted this month on a perjury charge. He, along with reputed mob associate Louis "Bent-Finger Lou" Monacello, had coached a grand jury witness to lie, with Mr. Quigley telling the witness, "Once they give you immunity, then you can commit perjury."
The disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court will decide whether Mr. Quigley will be disbarred because of his felony conviction.
Mr. Quigley is also a friend of Anthony Borgesi, the brother of jailed mob figure George Borgesi, and the nephew of reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, according to The Inquirer account. It was reported that Mr. Borgesi was working at Mr. Quigley’s office earlier this month.
The convicted attorney previously operated the Italian American Benevolent Society, the organization that made a $5,000 contribution to the Williams campaign in May 2007. The Williams campaign returned the money 21 months later, stating it had discovered the contribution to be illegal because the benevolent society was not a registered political action committee (PAC).
According to a Williams campaign filing, the Benevolent Society’s address is 1822 S. Broad St., the same as Mr. Quigley’s law office.
Despite repeated request, the Williams campaign has refused to provide copies of checks relating to the matter.
The Williams campaign has stated that the donation was returned because it was found to have been illegal. When asked if the contribution would have been returned had the check been from a legal PAC, even one with a mob-related connection, contradictory answers were given.
Candidate Williams said he knew Mr. Quigley casually, and, despite running for the city’s top law enforcement position, claims he had no knowledge of the Quigley indictment. Campaign treasurer Vince DeFino, however, attended law school with Mr. Quigley and said they became "good friends."
Mr. DeFino is the son of retired Common Pleas Court Judge Anthony DeFino, for whom Mr. Quigley worked as a law clerk.
Mr. DeFino said he had been aware of the indictment against Mr. Quigley in 2008, but chose not to recommend returning the check, explaining that one is "innocent until proven guilty." He also stated, "I was under the belief that the society which made the donation was a Political Action Committee duly qualified under the laws of Pennsylvania, of which Mr. Quigley was a member."
If Mr. Williams was truly unaware of the Quigley indictment, the only explanation could be that his campaign treasurer chose not to inform him that the largest contribution from 2007 was made by an organization linked to an indicted mob figure.
Since no record of the society was found in the files of the Pennsylvania Department of State, and in light of the federal and state investigations, the Williams campaign has been asked for check copies of both the May 2007 contribution as well as January 2009 refund.
The campaign has rejected all such requests.
Chris Freind can be reached at [email protected]