Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pa. state Sen. Musto charged with taking kickbacks in federal probe

State Sen. Raphael Musto (D., Luzerne) is the latest casualty of a series of state and federal probes into government corruption.

Pa. state Sen. Musto charged with taking kickbacks in federal probe


State Sen. Raphael Musto (D., Luzerne) is the latest casualty of a series of state and federal probes into government corruption.

Musto, 81, was indicted this morning on charges stemming from an alleged bribery and kickback scheme.

Law enforcement officials in Scranton are holding a news conference at this hour to lay out the charges.

Among the charges are that Musto accepted a bribe from an unnamed construction company which performed work on property he owned and gave him holiday gifts. Mr. Musto later used his public position "to advocate for and attempt to advance various projects beneficial" to the company and its affiliates.

For example, according to the indictment, he wrote letters to state agencies encouraging them to award grants to the company.

He is charged with honest services wire fraud, honest services mail fraud and mail fraud, two counts of corrupt receipt of a bribe or reward for official action concerning programs receiving federal fund and two counts of giving false statements to a government agent.

Musto's attorney Jack Riley, of Philadelphia, called the decision to charge his client "regrettable" and said that he was confident once a jury has "seen all the facts" they will "conclude the Senator has done nothing wrong."

“As we all know, the prosecutors are far from infallible and have proven it again by their actions today," said Riley. "Senator Musto has served faithfully and honestly for over 40 years as an elected public official and he has never wavered from his dedication to the people he has served while in office.

“Now that the one-sided prosecution phase of the process is complete, we eagerly await the opportunity to have an impartial jury review all the facts related to the transactions referenced in the charges filed today," said Riley. 

Musto retires next week after serving 37 years in the legislature (29 in the state Senate and eight in the House) where he was known as a leader on environmental issues. 

Musto served as the ranking Democrat on both the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the Local Government Committee at the time of his retirement. Between 1997 and 2004, Musto served in the elected leadership post of Democratic caucus secretary. He also served one term in the U.S. House after winning a special election in 1980 to represent the 11th district.

With Tracie Mauriello of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in Scranton

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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