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Brothers Plead Guilty in Old City Arson; Philly Back-To-School Delayed; DA Employee Charged
 
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 02/26/21 1:12 am | updated: 02/26/21 1:14 am
 
Two Delaware County brothers have admitted to setting their business on fire in Philadelphia causing extensive damage and displacing over 100 people in February 2018. Imad, 40, and Bahaa, 32, Dawara pled guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to defraud the United States. It happened on Feb 18, 2018, at 239 Chestnut Street. The brothers were about to lose their hookah bar and lounge for not paying $1,000s in rent. They took out $750,000 in insurance just weeks before the fire. The 4-alarm blaze destroyed several businesses and residences in the historic building causing millions of dollars in damage. The building was eventually raised. 160 people were displaced from their homes. Under a plea agreement, the two would serve 9 years in prison and pay $22 million in restitution. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June.

"If not for the heroism of the Philadelphia Fire Department, the devastation from that night would have been unthinkable and much more extensive," Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in the press release. "Even though many victims of this fire can never be made completely whole, I hope that today’s admission of guilt by the defendants gives these individuals and the City of Philadelphia at large some sense of relief and justice."

SEE ALSO: Old City 4-Alarm Fire Ruled Arson
SEE ALSO: Old City Fire Inspection Issues
SEE ALSO: Old City Fire Aftermath
SEE ALSO: Evacuations in Old City Fire

Philadelphia school students' return to the classroom has been delayed again due to the ongoing mediation process between the school district and teachers' union. Around 9,000 PreK-2nd grade students were set to return to school buildings with a hybrid program this Monday, March 1. "Pre-k through second-grade students who were set to return on Monday, March 1 will remain virtual until further details are announced," Superintendent Dr. William Hite said on Thursday, 2/25. Hite also said that the mediation process between the Philadelphia School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is coming to an end. More information will be released at a joint press conference at 1 p.m. Monday, 3/1. Teachers have begun receiving vaccines this week. Hite also said that a robust COVID-19 testing program will be put in place for both teachers and students. "I truly appreciate the good faith effort that has been demonstrated by all parties involved throughout this mediation process," said Mayor Kenney. "We are excited to be nearing the end of the process and look forward to providing our Philadelphia community with more certainty about the reopening of our public schools, starting first with our youngest learners."

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office says that a former Philadelphia District Attorney's office employee acted in self defense when he shot a sex worker who tried to rob him, but the employee is still being charged with a number of other offenses. 28-year-old DeVonte Douglass is charged with soliciting prostitution, possession of an instrument of crime, and making false reports to law enforcement authorities. It happened in the morning of October 20, 2020. Douglass arranged to meet Vernon Harris and paid him $250 for a sexual encounter through a cash app around 9:45 a.m. At 9:52, police were called to 31st Street and Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia for a robbery in progress. When they arrived, Douglass told police that Harris attempted to rob him at gunpoint and that he shot back in self defense. Harris was pronounced dead at the scene. Douglass also lied and told police that Harris was an old high school friend and he was lending him money. Eventually, he told police that he was there for sex in exchange for money.

The PA Attorney General is investigating the case to avoid any conflict within the city's DA office. Douglass used to worked as a peer crisis responder in the office’s Crisis Assistance, Response, and Engagement for Survivors (CARES) program. He was placed on administrative leave after the shooting. DAO spokesperson Jane Roh said he was fired on Wednesday, 2/24.

 
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(1) response

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 by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA | responded: 02/26 1:14 am
 
200 block of Chestnut Street, Old City, Philadelphia, arson fire.

 

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