Ex-employee from city controller's office faces federal corruption, bribery charges

Kristen Johanson
September 12, 2019 - 11:15 am
U.S. Attorney McSwain charges Jeffery Blackwell, who was Community Affairs Director for the City Controller’s office, with wire fraud, bribery and filing false tax returns.

Kristen Johanson/KYW Newsradio

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UPDATED: 12:50 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A federal grand jury has charged a former city employee, alleging he took cash for contracts and permits, and not filing proper tax returns. 

The feds say Jeffery Blackwell, who worked in the city controller's office for more than a decade, accepted more than $22,000 in bribes and kickbacks from business owners seeking certain permits from city agencies, such as the Streets Department and Licenses and Inspections. 

"Blackwell told individuals that he could obtain permits and contracts through his position with the controller's office, and then accepted illegal money to do so," said U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain when he announced the charges on Thursday morning. "Such as permits to park a storage container on the street, and permits for electrical and plumbing work for home renovations, as well as much bigger items, like promising lucrative city contracts and licenses."

McSwain said a grand jury indicted Blackwell on 13 counts, including wire fraud, filing false tax returns and bribery.

In another scheme, fed authorities say he took took about $11,000 in a month and a half to use his influence to get a city contract for a business owner who wanted to install police car decals.

Blackwell, 46, worked for the city from May 2003 to July 2015, and he once served as the community affairs director for the city controller.

He is the step-grandson of Councilmember Jannie Blackwell, who says she knew nothing of the allegations.

"I am surprised," she said, "so I will be eager to check with him."

Blackwell was arraigned Thursday afternoon.