Philadelphia sheriff promotes first Latino captain

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Latino has reached the rank of captain for the first time in the 300-year history of the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office.

Capt. Michael Bastone was among five men promoted by Sheriff Jewell Williams.

The office says Bastone scored the second highest of those who took the test. He's been with the sheriff's office for 25 years.

Bastone said in a statement that he was humbled.

Published in the New Jersey Herald on May 27, 2015

Sheriff’s Office Warns of Extortion Scams Targeting Individuals in Philadelphia and Surrounding Counties

PHILADELPHIA, PA---The office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County is urging individuals in the city AND surrounding counties to be aware of people trying to extort money by claiming they represent the sheriff’s office and/or the court, or Jury Commission Office.

“We are also supporting efforts by Philadelphia City Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and the First Judicial District in getting the word out about these scam artists and the despicable ways they are preying on innocent people,” said Sheriff Jewell Williams.

“I need to make it absolutely clear,” said Sheriff Williams, “we NEVER call ANYONE about a debt.  We SERVE a court-executed warrant”.

Among those who have been victimized are a number of constituents in Councilman Jones’ 4th District who have complained of people calling and threatening them with arrest and/or a heavy fine because they have either failed to appear for Jury Duty, or have not paid a specific debt, usually from a “quick loan” organization or a credit card debt.

Examples of the methodology used by the scammers include:

A 67-year-old woman being told she needed to pay a fine because she failed to respond to a jury notice.  The man said his name was Mike Sapp and represented the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia.  After the woman informed him she was going to call both the police and the court, he hung up.

  • A man being told there was a “warrant out for his arrest for theft by deception” because he failed to pay money owed on a credit card.  The female caller said she also represented the sheriff’s office and he could either turn himself in or call a certain number to pay the debt.   The caller even said it was okay to use a PayPal Account.  Unfortunately, the man wound up paying $300 to an organization called United Financial Resource.
  • Another woman was told she had to pay a fine because she missed grand jury duty and there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest.  The man who called her identified himself as Deputy Sheriff Strong.  The woman was literally on her way to pay the fine, but contacted Councilman Jones’ office first, which intervened and uncovered the scam.  Also, no such “Deputy Sheriff Strong” works at the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County.

“As the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, I am deeply concerned about this scam especially since it seems like they are targeting constituents in the 4th District,” said Jones. “I urge anybody contacted by these scammers to contact the proper authorities immediately."

Richard T. McSorley, Deputy Court Administrator, Criminal Trial Division for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, has issued the following:  “A jury summons is an official court order requiring jury duty. Failure to respond to your jury notice can result in legal consequences including contempt. However, no fines, costs or warrants of arrest are ever issued without notice of a court hearing that would be held in the Stout Center for Criminal Justice at 1301 Filbert street. No phone calls are ever made to those who fail to appear for jury duty”.

If you suspect you are being scammed or are suspicious of anyone claiming to be from the sheriff’s office or the court, please call any of the following numbers for verification and/or clarity:

  • Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County: 215-686-3530
  • Jury Commission Office: 215-683-7190.
  • District Attorney’s Office: 215-686-9900 

Sheriff’s Warrant Unit Captures Man Wanted by the FBI for a Series of Bank Robberies in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, PA--Members of the Sheriff of Philadelphia’s Fugitive Warrant Unit last night apprehended an individual wanted by the FBI in connection with a string of recent bank robberies in Philadelphia. 

The suspect, Richard Cooper, was taken into custody by the warrant unit around 7:15 p.m. Sunday night in an alley on the 2200 Block of E. Cambria Street.

Cooper, who was not the original target of the warrant unit, was also under house arrest before he took off recently and was being sought by the warrant unit for being an absconder on rape charges.

According to Staff Inspector Jennifer Algarin, one of the individuals involved in the apprehension, and Captain Vernon Muse, head of the warrant unit, while enroute to a two-story row home on the block to serve a warrant on an individual charged with intent to deliver drugs, the unit, which consisted of five individuals, were tipped off by an informant that Cooper was in the same house.

Further investigation revealed Cooper was also being sought in connection with no less than two bank robberies at gunpoint. Amid concerns he may have been armed with a high powered weapon, the unit also called in the Philadelphia Police Stakeout unit and other uniformed Philadelphia Police officers for backup.

As the warrant unit approached the front of the house, Cooper fled out the back door and into an alley where he was apprehended without a struggle by members of the warrant unit already covering the rear.

Cooper was taken by the warrant unit to the Curran Fromhold Correction Facility on State Road.

“We never know what we are going to face when we go out looking for fugitives,” said Sheriff Jewell Williams.  “The fact this dangerous individual was captured without a struggle and no one was hurt is a plus for us, and a testimony to good training, but more importantly, it means that one less dangerous individual is no longer on the streets.”

For more information contact Joseph Blake, Communications Officer, at 215-495-4174.

Sheriff’s Web Application Puts Important Real Estate Info at Public’s Fingertips

PHILADELPHIA, PA---The Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County has launched an interactive, data-rich WebAPP that offers detailed information on properties scheduled for sheriff’s sale that includes names, dates of sale, location, and what will possibly be the opening bid on the property.

The site, at also contains maps, word-search fields, and a wealth of detailed information about the properties and the conditions under which they are being sold.

“This new feature is a continuation of our efforts to make us as transparent as possible while providing a level of technical efficiency and service that has never been offered by this office,” said Sheriff Jewell Williams.

The web application is the first of its kind in the nation to be used by a sheriff’s office, and is in line with Sheriff Williams pledge to provide more openness and accessibility to records and data for everyone.  This has also helped to level the playing field for those looking for a home, and a piece of the American dream.

“When you look at who attends sheriff sales now,” said Sheriff Williams, “there are just as many individuals and first-time buyers as there are speculators and contractors.  That’s partly because of innovations like this app, our outreach and educational seminars on how to buy at a sale.”

The upgraded website also offers:

  • An easy, interactive way to find the neighborhood in which a property is located. 
  • A street view of the property on Google map
  • Names of current property owners
  • The possible opening bid you can expect at the sale.
  • The ability to download and save information right from the site

IT Director Tom Dodd, and web developer Micah Mahjoubian worked together to create the site and say the interest is already high, and increasing daily.

“Basically, the entire web site is all about delivering on promises of transparency and openness,” says Dodd.  “Technology allows us to do just that, while also raising our level of professionalism and service.”


Phila. collects more from foreclosures, tax seizures

Payments to Philadelphia's city treasury and utilities, from mortgage foreclosures and delinquent tax, gas and water bills, surged to $58.3 million last year, a 40% jump from $34.4 million in 2013, according to a statement from the city's elected Sheriff, Jewell Williams. The office, which also transport prisoners, has in the past been accused of inefficiency and favoritism in its management of delinquent property accounts.

"The increase in revenue can be attributed to two changes," says Williams' office: First: a new policy "that requires purchasers of properties to make final settlement within thirty days after the sale is held. In the past, final payment could be made months after a property was sold." Second, "a new data management system which increased the speed of processing sales and collecting payments."

“The faster we get paid for properties, the faster we can send delinquent taxes and municipal fees to the City,” Williams said in a statement. The payments include $22.7 million in back taxes from foreclosed properties, $8.5 million in back water bills, and $5.4 million to the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works. 

Willaims also says his office has speeded up processing deeds to foreclosure buyers to "20 days or less," from "months" in the past. "People who purchase properties at sheriff sales need a deed to take possession of the property and return it to productive use," Wiliams added.

Sheriff's Office Bike Patrol Delivers Gifts to CHOP

Philadelphia Sheriff‘S Office Opens Application Process for New Deputies December 22nd Through January 2nd, 2015 for Act II, Act 120 and State Police Certified Individuals

PHILADELPHIA, PA--The Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County is seeking to hire qualified individuals for the position of Deputy Sheriff Officer December 22nd through January 2nd, 2015.

 “Deputy Sheriff Officers are highly trained in both law enforcement and civil procedures needed for this challenging, and rewarding position”, said Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams.

 Potential deputies must also undergo background checks and pass written exams, physical, agility, and physiological tests before being considered for the position.

State law requires all candidates to pass a 19-week course at Penn State University.  

All potential hires must either live in the City of Philadelphia, or become a resident within six months of hire.

For more information, and to fill out the online application, visit the web site of the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County at, or the City of Philadelphia’s web site at  (Look under the Personnel heading for the job description and access to an application).

Media contact: Joseph Blake at 215-686-3572

Office of the Sheriff’s Holiday Toy Drive Kicks Off Today For Patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Dec. 3—The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Bicycle Patrol Unit has put together a Holiday Toy Drive that starts today and runs through December 19th, 2014. The unit is seeking donations of new, unwrapped, infant and/or adolescent gifts for those children still hospitalized over the holidays.

 Whether it’s needles for tests, painful therapy, or simply being in a space that is not home, these children struggle daily through different illnesses and challenges, but they can still take part in the holiday spirit through the generosity of others eager to share their blessings of health, family, and home.

 “This is the time of year that usually brings smiles to the faces of children, joy to their hearts and hope for their futures,” said Jewell Williams, Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County.

“The fact the men and women of the Bike Unit have volunteered their time to collect gifts for these children does not surprise me, and, indeed, reinforces the same values of compassion and duty that is a constant throughout this office,” said Sheriff Williams.  “I salute them for their thoughtfulness.”

Gifts can be dropped off at boxes near the entrance of the following locations during regular business hours:

  • Juanita Kidd Stout Court/Criminal Justice Center - 1301 Filbert Street (toy drop off: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Philadelphia Family Court – 1501 Arch Street (toy drop off hours:  7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. M-F)
  • Traffic Court – 8th and Spring Garden Street (toy drop off hours:  8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.)
  • Office of Philadelphia Sheriff – 100 S. Broad Street – 5th Floor (toy drop off hours: 8:30 – 3:30 p.m.)

Suggested gifts include infant sound machines, bath toys, mobiles, and other crib toys.  Adolescent items could include model and craft kits, jewelry sets, watches, art supplies, bath items and make-up and manicure sets.

Media Contact (not for publication):  Joseph P. Blake (215) 686-3572

Sheriff's Office Increases Monies Paid to the City by 40%

Philadelphia, July 14 -- Sheriff Jewell Williams announced today that for Fiscal Year 2014 the Sheriff’s Office increased its payment of delinquent taxes and fees to the City by 40-Percent over Fiscal Year 2013.

Delinquent taxes, water and gas bills are collected through monthly Mortgage Foreclosure and Tax Sales. In FY 2013 the office collected and turned over $27,500,000. In the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2014 the office collected and sent to the City of Philadelphia $45,160,648—an increase of $18.1 million.

The Sheriff attributed the added revenue in part to increases in the number of properties put up for sale. However, the majority of the increase was due to the efficiency of the new information technology system and the hiring of staff to conduct and process sales in a timely manner. After a year of development, this new computer system first became operational for the October 2013 auctions.

 “The principal mission of the Sheriff’s Office is to transport up to five hundred prisoners a day to and from Courts and to guard and protect everyone who uses the City’s nine Court facilities. However, as agents of the Court System we carry out duties directed by Court Order. One of the most complicated is holding Foreclosure and Tax Sales,” noted Sheriff Williams.

“There are some sales in which approximately 500 new properties are put up for auction”, he continued. “Over the course of a year about 7,500 new properties and liens are put up for sale and each property has to be processed, advertised, and posted. Once sold, the delinquencies owed to the City must be paid and a deed prepared for the new owner.”


Plaque Dedicated To Fallen Deputy Sheriff Who Died Trying To Stop A Robbery

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Deputy Sheriff who died back in 1982 trying to stop two men from robbing a bar in West Philadelphia now has a plaque dedicated in his honor, laid in the sidewalk in front of the Criminal Justice Center.

It’s the 266th Hero Plaque Dedication, but organizer James Binns notes Roy Fortson, Jr. was the first Philadelphia Deputy Sheriff to be killed in the line-of-duty, since the office was founded in 1750.

“He could have taken a pass. The law enforcement officer in him came out and he did engage them, but was shot five times and killed.”

His family is grateful for the recognition, including Fortson’s widow, Edna.

“My heart is overwhelmed. I feel the love that you showed my husband. As a servant of god, he did what he was required to do that night, not knowing that it would be his last.”

Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams says laying the plaque outside the Criminal Justice Center serves as a reminder of the challenges brave officers face, and that “we will never forget a fallen officer.”

Written by Steve Tawa for CBS News on June 1, 2014.

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