State Sen. Washington Charged With Theft, Conflict Of Interest - KMSP-TV

State Senator From Montco Charged With Theft, Conflict Of Interest

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PHILADELPHIA -

The Pennsylvania State Attorney General's Office announced charges Wednesday morning against a state senator representing parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.

State Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-4) is accused of using her elected office for political and financial gain, according to news release from Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office.

Evidence was presented before a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the charges being filed Wednesday.

"The evidence will show that Senator Washington pressured her staff into performing political activities using taxpayer dollars for her own personal benefit," Kane says in the news release.

Washington, 68, of Cheltenham, faces one count of theft of services and one count of violation of the conflict of interest statute.

According to the news release, the grand jury found Washington "through intimidation and verbal abuse, directed senate staff to perform campaign work even though staff knew what they were doing was against the law and that they had an obligation to report such activities."

The allegations are that Washington used state-paid employees and equipment at her district offices to organize an annual political campaign birthday fundraiser, which one former staff member described as a "grand, gala event" held in late July.

Prosecutors allege that Washington – who served in the state House for 12 years before joining the Senate in 2005 following a special election – hid the activities from staff who expressed concern over the practices and issued salary cuts and fired those who disagreed with the activities.

The state's monetary loss "is believed to range from at least $30,000 to in excess of $100,000," authorities say.

If convicted of all counts, Washington faces a maximum sentence of 12 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000. She's being allowed to turn herself in Wednesday.

There was no immediate comment from Washington's office when contacted by FOX 29 News.

The Attorney General's Office notes that Washington was one of the main sponsors of a Senate ethics rules resolution in 2010 that she's now accused of violating.

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