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Philadelphia top prosecutor’s bribery trial may be delayed

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams departs after for his arraignment on additional charges in his bribery and extortion case at the at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Thursday, May 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A lawyer for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said Thursday he expects his fast-track bribery trial set for this month to be delayed for several weeks.

Defense lawyer Thomas Burke scoffed at new charges added to the case this week.

“They passed on these charges because they know that they’re laughable,” he said after a hearing Thursday.

Williams, 50, is charged with promising legal favors in exchange for more than $100,000 in cash, gifts and trips.

The revised indictment filed Tuesday includes new charges that he spent $4,000 in campaign money on personal expenses after funneling it through a consultant.

Williams had been set to go on trial May 31, just two months after his arrest.

Burke said he is working with prosecutors on a new date as they debate a Supreme Court ruling that narrows the definition of official bribery.

Later Thursday, a businessman admitted bribing Williams with gifts and cash.

Prosecutors said Mohammad N. Ali gave Williams a vacation to the Dominican Republic, a $3,000 sofa, expensive electronics and jewelry, a fancy dinner and thousands of dollars. They say in return Williams helped Ali get through airport security more quickly after foreign travel.

Ali also wanted Williams’ help with criminal charges against an associate, authorities said.

Ali, 40, of Feasterville, pleaded guilty in federal court. He faces up to five years in prison on the bribery count. He also admitted filing a false income tax return.

Williams’ lawyer said he expects Ali to cooperate against Williams.

“I’m sure he’s going to be a witness at trial,” Burke said.

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