Friday, December 18, 2009

Skrepenak Charged With Taking A Bribe

In the typical fashion of the latest round of arrests the Times Leader reports Greg Skrepenak has been charged by the FBI for taking a $5,000.00 bribe as payment for his support on the creation of a tax incentive program that benefited a private developer.

A criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office says in January 2008 Skrepenak supported the creation of a tax increment district which benefited a contractor who wished to develop a property in Jenkins Township. The complaint does not identify the contractor.

Skrepenak could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but is more than likely his sentence will be reduced to 33-41 months under his plea agreement and federal sentencing guidelines.

Here is a link to his plea agreement on the Citizens Voice website.

This plea appears it is related to the charges against Allen Bellas. You can view these minutes of the Luzerne County Commissioners for the January, 2008 meeting. Mark Guydish of the Times Leader covered more on this story here.

On October 9, 2009 Jennifer Learn-Andes chronicled this report on the TIF program and Bellas.

The program, known as Tax Incremental Financing, or TIF, is designed to encourage development of blighted property. Taxing bodies must agree to divert new tax revenue from development to pay off some of the expenses required to prepare the site for development.

Bellas would help to market these tax-break programs to the taxing bodies.

For example, Bellas approached Luzerne County commissioners in early 2008 about approving a TIF to put town houses on 13 acres in Jenkins Township.

This project, which was called the “Leib tract,” is now known as Insignia Point Courtyard.

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