Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The former Sheriff of Philadelphia John Green, 72, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced Thursday to serve five years in prison followed by one year of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $76,581 by U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
John Green was convicted of conspiring to defraud the citizens of Philadelphia of his honest services as Sheriff of Philadelphia by receiving and accepting a stream of hidden personal benefits from co-defendant James Davis in exchange for giving Davis millions of dollars of business at the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office. From 2002 to 2011, Green accepted hidden bribes and kickbacks from his co-defendant Davis totaling over $675,000. The bribes and kickbacks that Davis gave to Green included: (1) a move-in ready home in Philadelphia for Green and his new wife in 2003, with rent-free living and then Green’s purchase of the home at a discount; (2) employment of Green’s new wife as a subcontractor when she started a new business in 2004, paying her over $89,000, and being the primary and at times sole employer of Green’s wife; (3) facilitation of over $65,000 in hidden campaign contributions to Green’s 2007 re-election campaign through others; (4) payment of over $148,000 in advertising for Green’s 2007 re-election campaign and falsely reporting the payments on the campaign finance reports; and (5) over $320,000 in payments to Green to assist him with the purchase of his retirement home in Florida in 2010. In exchange, Green gave his co-defendant Davis over $35 million of business at the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office in the sale of homes at sheriff’s sales.
“Sheriff Green sold the business of his office for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s sentence holds him accountable for his near-decade-long betrayal of the public trust.”
“Public officials hold office to serve the public good, not to line their own pockets” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “When public servants abuse their authority and flout the rule of law, they disgrace themselves and the offices they hold. That is what Green did here and he is now paying the price. Every public official should be on notice after today’s sentence: federal law enforcement is watching and we will hold you accountable to the law and to the public that you are supposed to serve.”
“This type of corruption erodes the faith of citizens in the city's ability to function and causes people to question the honesty, integrity and efficiency of how the city is run,” said City of Philadelphia Inspector General Amy L. Kurland. “This case was especially significant to the city and this sentence sends a strong message that we will not tolerate employees or officials using their positions to enhance their own wealth at the taxpayers’ expense.”
Green left office at the end of 2010, over one year before the expiration of his term, after the City of Philadelphia, Office of the Controller had issued an audit report in October 2010 expressing concern about potential irregularities with respect to the funds held by the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office relating to Sheriff’s sales. The Controller’s Office hired Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, which conducted a forensic investigation of the Sheriff’s Office. Deloitte issued a report in October 2011 that revealed the extent of the hidden business that Green had given to co-defendant Davis. Deloitte provided its findings to the government. Green pleaded guilty in April 2019.
The case was investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the City of Philadelphia Office of Inspector General. Trial Attorney Jennifer A. Clarke of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah L. Grieb and Christopher Diviny of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania prosecuted the case.