December 18, 2015

Former Philadelphia Sheriff and One Other Charged in Fraud Conspiracy

PHILADELPHIA—A superseding indictment, unsealed today, charges former Philadelphia Sheriff John Green, 68, of Kissimmee, Florida, and James Davis, 65, of Wyncote, Pennsylvania, with conspiracy and four counts of honest services fraud involving the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office (“PSO”). Davis is also charged with two counts of filing a false tax return and three counts of willful failure to file a tax return.

The indictment alleges that as Sheriff of Philadelphia, John Green was responsible for the execution of all the duties of the PSO, including the PSO’s sale of real property subject to mortgage foreclosure and tax sales at Sheriff’s sales. James Davis was co-owner of an advertising and public relations company, Reach Communications Specialists, and a title search and settlement company, RCS Searchers, Inc. John Green and James Davis enriched each other through their abuse of the public trust placed in the Sheriff to conduct his duties honestly in the best interest of the citizens of Philadelphia and the distressed owners who lost their properties at Sheriff’s sales. Green agreed to Davis’ companies receiving contracts, business, and fees from the PSO in the sale of the real estate, which they hid from the public, in exchange for Davis providing Green extensive personal benefits, which they also hid. From 2002 through 2010, Davis and his companies developed near exclusive control of much of the work connected to the PSO court-ordered sales of properties. Davis and his companies also handled the advertising for Green’s reelection campaigns, including for Green’s 2007 reelection campaign. According to the indictment, Davis provided Green with a stream of personal benefits that included: buying and renovating a home for Green which was then sold to Green at a loss; providing more than $210,000 in hidden payments to Green’s 2007 reelection campaign; and giving more than $320,000 as gifts and interest-free loans to Green for Green’s retirement home in Florida. It is further alleged that in exchange for these benefits, no other vendors were allowed to bid and compete against Davis’ companies for the services that they provided to the PSO related to the sale of properties at Sheriff’s sales; Green expanded the amount of services provided by Davis’ companies and paid for out of the proceeds of the Sheriff’s sales; and Green allowed Davis’ companies to add and increase fees that were paid for out of the proceeds from the Sheriff’s sales. Each dollar that went to Davis and his companies from the property sales was a dollar that would never make it to the distressed property owners who were entitled to the remainder of the proceeds after the satisfaction of liens and necessary costs. Also, Davis was permitted to place friends and family members on the staff at the PSO who were assigned responsibilities connected to the Sheriff’s sales.

It is further alleged that Davis willfully filed a false U.S. income tax return for Reach Communications for tax year 2007 by falsely reporting a business loss of approximately $146,669, which he knew was not true. Davis allegedly filed a false individual 2007 U.S. income tax return, by falsely reporting a taxable income of $408,072, which Davis knew was not true. Davis is also charged with willfully failing to file tax returns for tax years 2008, 2009, and 2010.

If convicted of all charges, Davis faces a statutory maximum sentence of 94 years in prison, a $775 special assessment, a possible fine, and supervised release; and Green faces a statutory maximum sentence of 85 years, a $500 special assessment, a possible fine, and supervised release. The indictment also includes a notice of forfeiture seeking $7,000,000 and property from Davis and Green.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, and the Philadelphia Office of the Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Grieb and Christopher Diviny.

An Indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.