PHILADELPHIA - The step-grandson of a Philadelphia city councilwoman has been indicted on federal charges. The indictment says he accepted thousands of dollars in kickbacks and bribes while working for the city to investigate fraud.
FOX 29's Jeff Cole reports.
It was the summer of 2015 when FOX 29 had its eye on Jeffrey Blackwell, who is a former employee with the city controller’s office. He was swigging beer and had some people mad at him. A man who said his construction crew did shoddy work on his roof and two women who claimed he took rental deposits on property he didn’t own.
On Thursday, Blackwell found trouble again.
"The path forward must include rooting out the bad actors among us," City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart said.
The 49-year-old ex-official in the “investigations division” of the city controller’s office is indicted on charges of public corruption.
Federal Investigators allege Blackwell, who is the step-grandson of outgoing City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, put his city job up for sale allegedly taking cash and promising favors while working for former City Controller Alan Butkovitz.
"Blackwell did not just investigate fraud he was, in fact, committing fraud accepting more than $22,000 in bribes and kickbacks from individuals seeking certain city permits and contracts," U.S. Attorney William McSwain said at a Thursday press conference.
Federal investigators claim Blackwell took the money but rarely delivered on the permits and contracts. He’s also charged with tax fraud for allegedly making false claims on one filing and failing to file returns for two years.
"The city permitting rules and contracting rules are in place to ensure all work will be done honestly and appropriately and done according to the rules," Inspector General Amy Kurland said.
Blackwell pleaded “not guilty” and left court on bail with no comment.
Back in 2015, he left the controller’s office when the rental controversy came up and had nothing to say back then.