Philly Corruption Trial: Corey Kemp Gets Ten Years


A federal judge sentenced former City Treasurer Corey Kemp to 10 years in prison today, saying he "engaged in a corruption scheme that damaged the citizens and the image of Philadelphia."

"You not only cheated the city," U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson told Kemp, "you cheated the state, the federal government and your church. It is very discouraging because you had so much promise. You have only yourself to blame."

Ten years is a long time. Clearly the judge wanted to make a statement here, and make one he did. That said, there are two quotes, one from the judge, and one from Kemp's lawyer that seem particularly important:

Kemp was convicted in May of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, extortion, welfare fraud, filing false tax returns and other frauds. Jurors found that he accepted gifts, bribes, sporting tickets, a deck and $10,000 cash to steer municipal contracts to lawyer Ronald A. White, a Mayor Street confidant, and his allies. Kemp was also convicted of falsifying his income taxes, defrauding his church and a state welfare-to-work program.

"This is not just a case of Mr. Kemp getting dinners and tickets," Baylson said.

I agree with that. This really goes above and beyond what I think most people assume to be typical corruption. From what I can tell, he deserved to go to jail. That said...

Kemp's lawyer, L. George Parry, called it "a source of great frustration that I was not able to get the jury to agree with me" that his client didnt break the law. "He simply played the pay-to-play game."

"All this is," he said, "is political patronage, which is not illegal. ... That's how we get U.S. attorneys, and dare I say it, how we get judges. ... If this were a baseball team, Corey Kemp would be the bat boy."

See, here is my problem with this: I think Kemp did commit a crime. Unfortunately, I do think that in the grand scheme of things, Corey Kemp really is just a bit player, and that he simply was someone who happened to be caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The question: Will this go higher? Will we see bigger names start to fall? Rumors certainly abound...

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