Saturday, April 10, 2010

Northeastern Pennsylvania Hotbed of News

In an effort to bring as much information as possible here is a rapid fire presentation of the Hotbed News in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Pat Patte's lawyer blasts statements made by U.S. Attorney Amy Phillips concerning the origin of $80,000 to $90,000 seized by the feds in this story filed by Terrie Morgan-Besecker of the Times Leader.

Mike Butera acknowledged agents searched Patte’s Sports Bar and Patte’s home when he was charged in February, but he said Friday that nothing was recovered during the searches.

At the hearing, Phillips said agents recovered the cash and other evidence of a gambling operation after they served search warrants. Phillips did not identify the location that the warrants were served. Butera said he believes Phillips’ statements led people to assume the evidence was recovered from Patte’s bar or home. That’s a perception that has hurt Patte’s business.

Luzerne County Clerk of Courts Robert Reilley rejected a plea bargain agreement with the feds according to sources who spoke with Terrie Morgan-Besecker of the Times Leader.

Reilly’s attorney, Michael Butera of Pittston, said Friday he could not comment on whether a plea deal was offered to Reilly.

Butera said Reilly was not aware of any investigation relating to the Clerk of Courts office. Asked if there was any other investigation of Reilly outside of his court position, Butera declined to comment.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, could not say what charges prosecutors planned to file, but did confirm the case is separate from an investigation regarding payments made by a committee headed by Reilly to a records consulting firm.

The U.S. Secret Service on Wednesday confirmed it is investigating nearly $1 million in payments that were made to LRW Solutions Group of Wayne for work related to the organization and storage of county court records.

Related to that story Jennifer Learn-Andes wrote in this article that Luzerne County Prothonotary Carolee Medico Olenginski said Friday that she was the one who contacted the U.S. Secret Service to request an investigation of nearly $1 million spent on an outside records consultant.

Butera is a busy attorney these days.

The last item concerns a purported "sick out" by part-time van drivers working for Luzerne County written by Jennifer Learn-Andes of the Times Leader.

Only 18 of 50 Luzerne County van drivers showed up for work Friday due to disputes between the controller and administration regarding overtime pay, leaving many elderly and disabled persons without transportation.

The disagreement stemmed from Griffith’s refusal to release overtime for part-time van drivers without salary board authorization. Griffith said the overtime payments will push pay for the drivers above the amount approved by the board.

Although Griffith may lose this one based on federal and state wage laws something smells about part-time earning overtime. Luzerne County is a hotbed for shaddy practices whether it be legal or illegal. So far its leaders have failed to get a handle on the crisis. Every day is a new day for more corruption.

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