Former Philadelphia Sheriff John Green pleaded guilty to felony and conspiracy charges Tuesday, less than a week before a scheduled retrial on allegations that he steered contracts worth more than $35 million to a campaign contributor in exchange for $1 million in benefits over the span of nine years.
Just over a year ago, Green was acquitted on three of the five charges. The jury deadlocked on the two other charges.
On Wednesday, Green's lawyer, Peter J. Scuderi, said his client doubted he would be as successful in a retrial, which was scheduled to begin on Monday.
"The odds of that happening once in a federal court are unlikely," Scuderi said. "The odds of it happening again are even more distant."
Green, 71, is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 1. The city's longest-serving sheriff whose tenure ran from 1988 to 2010 faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Under the terms of the deal struck with prosecutors, the government agreed to drop one outstanding charge, reducing the time he could face in prison from 10 to five years. In exchange, Green agreed to forfeit about $76,000 and admitted to a long list of charges.
Green’s co-defendant, businessman James Davis, 68, was found guilty of conspiracy and fraud charges. He was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison, and is scheduled to begin serving his term on Monday.
The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office oversees the transportation of prisoners, the collection of taxes and the auctioning of houses forfeited for non-payment of taxes.
Green directed lucrative contracts to Davis’ companies, an advertising firm called Reach Communications Specialists Inc. and a title company known as RCS Searcher, according to the indictment.
Reach handled most of the advertising for the sheriff's department from 2002 to 2010 and the advertising for Green's re-election campaign in 2007. No other vendors were allowed to bid or compete against Davis' companies for contracts with the sheriff's office.
The indictment also says Reach attached fees not part of the initial deals and added other charges that totaled $7 million; Green paid those bills, depleting the amount of money from the sale of each foreclosed home that went back to its owner.
Davis' family and friends were given jobs in the sheriff's department, the indictment said.
Authorities said Davis provided Green with a stream of personal benefits that included buying and renovating a home for the sheriff, which was then sold to Green at a loss; making more than $210,000 in hidden payments to Green’s 2007 re-election campaign; and giving more than $320,000 as gifts and interest-free loans to Green for his retirement home in Florida.