Monday, October 5, 2009

Barton Weidlich, Sam Guesto, Luzerne County

Back in 2003 Barton Weidlich applied for a P.U.C. license to operate Shorte's Taxi in Pittston. I wonder whether he took a taxi ride the day he had to testify before the grand jury in conjunction with the ongoing federal corruption probe of Northeastern Pennsylvania especially Luzerne County.

Barton J. Weidlich, who has ties to former Luzerne County Manager/Chief Clerk Sam Guesto, testified Tuesday before a federal grand jury investigating public corruption.

Last week, federal authorities seized several boxes of Guesto's records as manager/chief clerk at Weidlich's property in Pittston, courthouse sources said. The records were transferred from a storage facility off River Street in Wilkes-Barre about a year ago, the sources said.

In January 2008 - two months after the disclosure that Guesto failed to document how he and six other officials used debit cards to spend almost $42,000 in county funds - Guesto decided to resign as manager/chief clerk.

Weidlich arrived at the federal courthouse in Scranton shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday and left about an hour later. Weidlich's company, Roadside Advertisements Inc., had controversial contracts with the Luzerne County Convention and Visitors Bureau for advertising on a billboard and four benches.

Roadside is based at 53 Elizabeth St. in Pittston, according to the state corporation bureau. The county tourism bureau terminated the Roadside contracts in June 2008 after county officials began reviewing contracts that violated procurement policies.

From that point forward it hasn't been too good for Mr. Weidlich.

Michael Buffer of the Citizen's Voice reported that Luzerne County paid more than $110,000.00 to businesses owned by Mr. Weidlich.

Luzerne County has paid companies run by Barton J. Weidlich - a Pittston man who testified Tuesday in Scranton before a federal grand jury investigating public corruption - more than $110,000 since 2006, records show.

Weidlich's JPW Construction Management Inc. received more than $53,000 for various tasks - such as rearranging and installing desks, installing and removing doors, building walls and painting floors and walls - from July 2006 to December 2008, records show. Weidlich's Roadside Advertisements Inc. received more than $63,000 for providing billboard and bench advertising.

Roadside filed two lawsuits in September 2008 alleging the Luzerne County Convention and Visitors Bureau failed to honor advertising contracts and owes the company more than $168,000. The bureau responded that its board of directors did not authorize the contracts and alleged the company failed to meet obligations.

According to Michael Sisack of the Times-Tribune Luzerne County officials turned over e-mails to federal officials from the accounts of former County Manager/Chief Clerk Sam Guesto and former Budget Director Sam Diaz.

The investigators, who were reviewing records last month in the county's tax claim bureau and contracts in the controller's office, requested Mr. Guesto's e-mails last week and Mr. Diaz's e-mails earlier this week, county Information Technology Director Stephen Englot said.

Mr. Englot said the request came through another county official who told him the investigators "wanted to look at e-mail and calendar items" for Mr. Guesto and Mr. Diaz.

"When an employee leaves employment, we archive a copy of the mailbox for the person, which would keep a copy of all the e-mails, sent e-mails and the calendar on their account," Mr. Englot said.

Mr. Guesto resigned as manager/chief clerk in January 2008 after the disclosure he failed to document how he and six other officials used debit cards to spend almost $42,000 in county funds. He resurfaced as an administrator in the county court system before being laid off in March.

Mr. Diaz, who left the budget office in March 2008 for a position with The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, oversaw the tax claim office from 2006 until his resignation in March 2008.

An FBI agent visited the tax claim bureau, which manages the sale of properties with delinquent real estate taxes, sometime last month, tax claim director Beth Ann Christian said.

An agent also visited the controller's office, which includes a repository of county contracts, canceled checks, invoices and bids, early last month, Acting Controller A.J. Martinelli said.

According to county records, a Guesto confidant, Barton J. Weidlich, and business partner John Altobelli were scooping up at least a dozen vacant properties through tax claim sales between April and June 2007, often paying far below the listed sale price.

In a game of newsscoop folly Michael Sisak comes back with a report that Weidlich has his own "super double probation" secret security code to the Luzerne County courthouse.

Barton J. Weidlich had access.

The Pittston businessman, a confidant of former county manager/chief clerk Sam Guesto, used a special security clearance to gain employees-only access to the Luzerne County Courthouse, earned more than $100,000 in county business and worked the county tax-claim system to buy a dozen properties and turn a 4,900-percent profit on a home in Hazleton, according to county officials and records.

All despite being a convicted felon.

Phew, you would think this guy had enough.'s only the feds he messin with...

According to news reports he is charged with intimidating a witness in the federal probe. Weidlich was arrested last Friday by U.S. Marshals in connection with the alleged intimidation. He gets the distinct honor to be the first one to see the inside of a jail cell but obviously won't be the last.

A hearing was held today before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Malachy Mannion and Weidlich will remain a guest of the Lackawanna County prison for two more days.

Bart, how did your day go...Not too well Sam....and tomorrow doesn't look too good either.


Anonymous said...

Everyone still thinking they are playing with the keystone cops

Anonymous said...

heard the football star was wired