PW Exclusive: City Council Workers in Cell-Phone-Theft Scheme ID'd

But why haven't they been charged?

By Aaron Kase & Nina Sachdev
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 14, 2010

Share this Story:

Philadelphia Weekly has obtained the names of the eight city workers who received stolen city cell phones from a former city employee.

But the city employees—Colia Adams-Broaddus and Robin Jones from City Council President Anna Verna’s Office; Tammy Goodman-Byars from Councilman Darrell Clarke’s Office; David Rosario, David Oates, Rodney Williams, Willie Bell and William Robinson from the City Council Sergeant at Arms Office­—are not facing charges, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

“They are looked at as helpful witnesses,” said Tasha Jamerson, director of communications for the District Attorney's Office.

An investigation by the Office of the Inspector General and the District Attorney’s Office found that Mona Lamberson, a clerk in the Division of Technology, was selling BlackBerrys to friends, family and city employees for $100 each and collecting $67 a month in cash from each user for service.

The stolen phones collectively accrued $134,668 in charges but with city rates and discounts applied, the total bill for airtime came to about $30,000.

According to the affidavit for Lamberson’s arrest, Adams-Broaddus allegedly introduced the other workers to the scheme, calling it a “Friends and Family” plan “explained as being operated by the City of Philadelphia using a pool of excess minutes that the City purchases" from its cellular service provider, AT&T.

According to the affidavit, the city workers obtained the phones “for their families, friends, and paramours who consumed minutes voraciously and indiscriminately at no personal cost to themselves.”

Participants received no statements or bills for their usage and made payments in cash to Adams-Broaddus or directly to Lamberson, according to the affidavit.

“It’s clear this wasn’t a one-person operation,” Tariq Karim El-Shabazz, Lamberson’s defense attorney, said in a phone interview. “Other people were clearly involved, but because they shoveled everything onto Ms. Lamberson they were able to escape prosecution.”

“They were giving [Adams-Broaddus] money,” El-Shabazz said. “It’s always been my contention that he was involved more than indicated; it was my contention that he was receiving money as well.”

Adams-Broaddus declined to speak about the case and hung up on a reporter when asked to comment.

When asked why the eight employees were not subject to investigation or disciplinary action, Inspector General Amy Kurland said: “Because we don’t have any jurisdiction over City Council. Once the criminal case is done, we follow up with administrative investigation. We didn’t do that here because they’re City Council employees.”

According to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter (Article X, Section 10-102), which is the city's legally binding Constitution, "any City employee, and any other governmental officer or employee whose salary is paid out of the City Treasury shall not benefit from and shall not be interested directly or indirectly in...the supplying of any services to be paid for out of the City Treasury; nor shall they solicit any contract in which they may have any such direct or indirect interest."

It was unclear at press time why the city workers have not been subject to ethics violations.

The other employees involved either declined to comment or were unavailable.

Lamberson received a five-year probation sentence has to pay back the $30,000 to the city. Her probation could be reduced to three years if she returns the entire sum, but she also might have to forfeit her pension after working for the city for 24 years.

Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend



(HTML and URLs prohibited)

Related Content

City Continues to Deny Wrongdoing in Cell-Phone-Theft Scheme
By Aaron Kase

“We do not provide city phones for personal use then collect cash for them,” said Joe James, deputy chief information officer for the Division of Technology.