New public corruption hotline announced in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA - October 22, 2012

George Venizelos, special agent in charge of the FBI's Philadelphia field division, announced the hotline at a news conference Monday, part of a coordinated effort with the U.S. attorney's office, the state attorney general's office, Philadelphia city government, police and others.

The federal government has been making public corruption a priority in recent years, he said, and investigators need residents to report it when they see possible corruption.

"The public is one of the most effective tools in the battle against public corruption," said Venizelos, adding that it's critical to stopping problems such as the "pay-to-play" culture in city government.

The toll-free hotline number is 855-FBI-TIPS (855-324-8477).

Venizelos said his office doubled staffing in its public corruption unit from 12 to 24 people last year. With the new hotline, he said, the FBI will evaluate tips and share information with the other agencies as they look into them.

Authorities say there's no particular reason for the timing of the announcement, but that tips from the public are valuable in corruption probes.

The hotline will focus on Philadelphia, but authorities say they will follow the tips wherever they lead.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said that, while public corruption is not new, authorities know that they need all the tools they can get as they attempt to root it out in all its forms.

"We need help from the public," Kelly said. "No one is above the law."

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