PHILADELPHIA (STL.News) United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Jeffrey Blackwell, 47, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced today to 22 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $25,612 in restitution by United States District Court Judge Chad F. Kenney for misusing his official position with the Philadelphia City Controller’s Office to enrich himself by soliciting and accepting bribes, and for committing additional tax crimes.
Blackwell pleaded guilty in August 2020 to charges of honest services wire fraud, filing a false tax return, and two counts of failure to file a tax return. A former City of Philadelphia employee in the Investigations Division of the Office of the City Controller, the defendant committed a series of frauds between 2013 and 2015, accepting more than $20,000 in bribes for city services.
Blackwell solicited bribes from at least five individuals who were seeking permits or contracts from the City. One of the individuals owned a furniture store and paid Blackwell for permits to park a storage container on the street. The second person was renovating a house and paid Blackwell for permits to allow that renovation. The third person owned a construction business and paid Blackwell to obtain a plumbing permit.
The fourth person owned an auto body shop and paid Blackwell in the hope of getting a license to buy and sell cars, as well as a City contract to install decals on police vehicles. The fifth person, who was cooperating with the FBI at the time, told Blackwell that he needed permits from the City to renovate a house. The defendant also filed a fraudulent 2012 federal income tax return that falsely deducted travel expenses and falsely claimed a dependent; finally, he failed to file a return as required by law for tax years 2013 and 2014.
“During my tenure as U.S. Attorney, we have made it a top priority to uncover and prosecute public corruption in Philadelphia wherever it exists,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Jeffrey Blackwell used his public position to enrich himself to the detriment of all Philadelphians who expect and deserve honest services from the City’s employees. Today’s sentence puts Mr. Blackwell where he belongs – in prison.”
“Jeffrey Blackwell figured he’d boost his city salary by taking bribes and kickbacks on the side,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “In doing so, he undermined the mission and integrity of the controller’s office where he worked and deprived Philadelphians of the honest government services they deserve. Public corruption does so much damage to people’s trust in the system, at every level. That’s why the FBI is committed to holding crooked public employees like Blackwell accountable.”
“Mr. Blackwell ignored his duties to provide honest services to the citizens of Philadelphia and to file accurate tax returns; instead he solicited bribes, lied, and cheated on his taxes,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso. “Today, his greed landed him in prison. Those contemplating similar behavior have been put on notice about the consequences of such criminal conduct.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, with assistance from the Philadelphia Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David J. Ignall.