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Philadelphia sheriff's office raided by FBI

A source close to the investigation said the search was focused on the office's real-estate unit

By Solomon Leach
Philadelphia Daily News

PHILADELPHIA — FBI agents seized computers and other documentation during a raid of the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office yesterday morning.

FBI spokeswoman Carrie Adamowski confirmed that agents were there, but would not comment on the nature of the investigation or its target. A source close to the investigation said the search was focused on the office's real-estate unit. Agents took "a whole boatload of stuff," the source said.

Sheriff Jewell Williams released a statement yesterday afternoon through a spokesman, which said in part, "As part of an ongoing investigation begun in the previous administration, the FBI arrived . . . this morning with a search warrant and subpoena for certain records and files."

Williams said his office cooperated fully with investigators.

The office has been a target of multiple federal investigations over the last few years after Controller Alan Butkovitz alleged financial irregularities under former Sheriff John D. Green, who stepped down in 2011.

Since Green's departure, eight people have been convicted or pleaded guilty in a fraudulent check-writing scheme masterminded by Richard Bell, a former accounting clerk in the Sheriff's Office. Also, in June, federal prosecutors accused California developer Gerard Joseph of conspiring with Bell to buy properties at sheriff's sale for 10 percent of the supposed purchase price and paying Bell a fee.

Green, a former vendor and others also were sued by the city in April for failing to pay Philadelphia Gas Works money it was owed from sheriff's sales.

Copyright 2013 the Philadelphia Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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