Martin Carlson, U.S. Attorney and Rich Southerton of the FBI must feel like they hit the motherload when they landed in Northeastern Pennsylvania. They probably feel like Michael Corleone in Godfather III- "Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in.."
But according to disgraced Mark Ciavarella the media is making more out of it than there is. According to him there is no mass corruption in Northeastern Pennsylvania- Luzerne County Court System, Luzerne County Row Offices, Pittston Area School District, Wilkes-Barre Area School District, Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center, Luzerne County Community College, Wilkes-Barre Scranton Airport, PNC Field. Nahhh Chiv you are sooo right.
It was only a matter of time before Lackawanna County entered the FBI crosshairs.
Intellacom and its President Anthony J. Trombetta have been in the news for several months. A Pittston Area School District contract with Intellacom worth nearly $300,000 that was supposedly awarded under a state program never went through the agency, PEPPM, that coordinates that program. Superintendent Ross Scarantino was later charged with accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to influence the awarding of district contracts.
Subsequently Dave Janoski of the Scranton Times revealed that a board member's son worked for Intellacom said board member who made the motion to award the contract and voted on the contract. According to the board president Mark Singer he thought that wasn't a conflict of interest since the son wasn't an owner.
Evidently Mr. Singer didn't read this Auditor General report for the Weatherly Area School District in 2005. 65 PA C.S. § 1102 The Ethics Act specifically prohibits a public official from using the authority of his office in order to obtain a private pecuniary benefit for himself, a member of his immediate family, or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated. It is pretty clear that an mere association gives rise for concern.
In the meantime the FBI headed to Luzerne County Community College for more Intellacom records. Ross Scarantino was on the board of Luzerne County Community College as well. Intellacom received a no-bid contract in 2007 for an “off-campus closed circuit television” system at the college's Hazleton, Kulpmont, Shamokin, Berwick and Wilkes-Barre campuses. Intellacom submitted a proposal of $191,000. Records show LCCC paid $134,802 to Intellacom before the contract was cancelled because the company did not provide service as promised in the contract.
I guess cash flow became a problem because Dave Janoski reported Intellacom was behind on its rent payments at their Cross Creek offices. Subsequently Jennifer Learn-Andes reports that Tormbetta's restaurant, Portifino, near the arena temporarily closed.
Missed payments and an abrupt vacation closing raised questions about the viability of the Portafino Ristorante and its owner, Anthony Trombetta, who's already under scrutiny in the growing public corruption probe in Luzerne County.
A notice taped on the inside of the front door Thursday and a message on the electronic sign outside the restaurant on Schechter Drive alerted the public to the vacation.
"We will be reopening next week. Sorry for the inconvenience," read the notice.
The Italian restaurant opened last year on the site of a franchise that closed for lack of business. Trombetta secured a $1 million mortgage on the property from Wachovia Bank, according to court documents.
The restaurant and Trombetta, president and treasurer, were named in a complaint filed May 27 in Luzerne County Court alleging Portafino and its owner failed to pay for advertising and design of its Web site. Tree Design Studio Inc. of Shavertown sought $21,452 plus interest for services provided since May 1, 2008, according to the suit.
In the same article she also reports that another of Trombetta's compaines missed a payment on a business development loan to Luzerne County.
Terra Firma Land Development Group Inc. did not pay its monthly installment on a $500,000 community development loan for the restaurant. A payment of $3,103 was due June 12 and the next due July 12, said Andy Reilly, director of the county Community Development Agency.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, Trombetta is president, secretary and treasurer of the company that has an East Oak Street, Pittston, address. He holds identical titles with Intellacom.
County commissioners voted to loan Terra Firma the money at the start of 2008. Terra Firma still owes $477,579 on the note, which was borrowed at 1.5 percent interest over 15 years.
The county will receive all money owed no matter what because borrowers must secure a letter of credit guaranteeing repayment of all money owed if they default, Reilly said. Terra Firma's letter of credit is with Wachovia Bank, he said.
And the beat goes on.