The former head of marketing for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is expected to plead guilty to federal charges for allegedly taking bribes and kickbacks to boost sales of various products.
James H. Short Jr., 50, was the director of marketing and merchandizing for the state’s 500 liquor stores. Short was in charge of recommending which products should be sold and which should be discontinued, according to court documents.
The PLCB is one of the largest buyers of alcohol in the world.
Federal prosecutors said Short secretly used the position, between 2003 and 2012, to enrich himself. Short allegedly accepted a “stream of benefits” from a distiller and a liquor wholesaler. Those benefits included cash, meals, sports tickets, golf outings and multiple all-expense paid trips, according to court papers. Court papers do not identify either the distiller or the wholesaler by name.
In February 2010, for example, the unnamed distiller chartered a private jet to fly Short to Bonita Springs, Florida for an all-expense-paid vacation.
“The purpose of the trip was to influence Short’s recommendation to list a particular product,” according to an information filed in Harrisburg today. Following the trip, Short's actions led to the product being adopted by the PLCB stores.
In December 2011, Short allegedly took another all-expense-paid golf outing to Bonita Springs on the distiller’s dime.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission found Short and two other PLCB officials improperly accepted gifts from vendors. Former chairman Patrick "P.J." Stapleton, who resigned in 2012, was ordered to repay the state $7,258. Former CEO Joseph Conti, who resigned in 2013, was ordered to pay $2,382.
Short, who retired in March 2014, was ordered to repay $13,586.