Court documents that might link a North Philadelphia state representative to a constituent charged with nearly $1 million in federal mail fraud have been sealed.
State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, 64, who is seeking his 13th term in office, was publicly linked this week to Ethel C. Harvey, 54, a chiropractor in his district, who has been charged in U.S. District Court with mail fraud.
The charges were published Friday in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which quoted court papers filed in federal court. However, according to Patty Hartman, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the papers have since been sealed.
Hartman could not say who ordered the documents sealed or when.
The newspaper account speculated that Thomas had helped Harvey gain access to city accident files, which then allowed her to solicit business for her clinic, the Olney Pain & Rehabilitation Center. Court papers, as quoted in the news story, said that Harvey and an unnamed state representative met with officials from the city records department to discuss access to the records and that meeting was followed up by a request for access to the city records through a letter with the state House of Representatives letterhead.
The letter, according to the account, was addressed to Records Commissioner Joan Decker, asking for special access because, it said, Harvey was “undertaking a very important research project which deals with seat belt injuries on African Americans.”
Court filings did not specifically name Thomas, and his office declined to comment to the Tribune on Friday.
The newspaper account said that from 2008 through 2010, Harvey or her designee viewed more than 40,000 city accident records for free. Typically, the city charges $25 each for the records prompting federal prosecutors to put a $988,000 value to the crime.
The Inquirer linked Harvey to Thomas through campaign records. She donated $300 to Thomas’ re-election campaign in 2008, and $1,500 in 2010.