Friday, August 24, 2007

The Electric Connection

I recently wrote about the renaissance that my hometown was experiencing, see The Electric City. The story of Scranton featured in the NYTimes was a far cry from the town of my youth.

Now this is the Scranton I know & "love." According to a news report in the Allentown Morning Call, Prosecutor in DeNaples probe to resign, sources say:

U.S. Attorney Thomas Marino, the top federal prosecutor for central and northeastern Pennsylvania, will resign within six weeks amid an investigation of Mount Airy Lodge owner Louis DeNaples, according to two sources.

Marino, who has held the position since 2002, is leaving for undisclosed reasons, the sources said.

Also, the federal portion of an ongoing federal/state investigation into organized crime has been transferred from Marino's office to a U.S. attorney's office in Binghamton, N.Y., the sources said, but will be returned to the Middle District after Marino leaves.

The probe in part involves DeNaples, who listed Marino as a reference on his successful application for a slot machine casino license from Pennsylvania, sources and DeNaples' spokesman have said.

* * * *
DeNaples, a Scranton businessman whose many companies include Keystone Sanitary Landfill Inc. in Lackawanna County, was awarded a casino license in December 2006 despite criticism over his past, including a 1978 no-contest plea to felony charges involving conspiracy to defraud the government over the Hurricane Agnes cleanup.

Marino was listed as a reference on the state gaming application DeNaples submitted in December 2005.

DeNaples' activities are only part of a joint probe into organized crime by the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police, sources have said. The Secret Service and Internal Revenue Service also are active in the investigation.

It's unclear when DeNaples' name first surfaced in the broader probe.

Three people, including William D'Elia, the reputed head of the Bufalino crime family in Scranton, have been indicted on money laundering charges. Richard Smalacombe and Frank Pavlico have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against others. D'Elia, who also was charged in November 2006 with conspiring to kill a witness, is in prison awaiting trial.
See also, Prosecutor was reference for slots hopeful under investigation.

Blogger A Big Fat Slob also discusses the Marino story, in DeNaple's US Attorney Pal to Step Down, and he noted:
It was reported last year that, between 2000 and 2005, DeNaples and affiliates contributed over a million bucks to Rendell and Bob Mellow, among others, who were instrumental in naming folk to the gaming board that eventually awarded DeNaples his slots license. Earlier this week, citizens groups filed ethics complaints against one of those board members, whose law firm represented DeNaples and another slots applicant.
I must admit that I know several of the locals mentioned in the various stories, but I've been away from Scranton for much too long to know the real scoop about DeNaples. Russell Bufalino was the head of the Bufalino family when I lived there and I remember being shocked to read a story in Time Magazine in the early '70s, listing him as one of the top Mafia heads in the country -- living in little old Scranton (or even smaller Old Forge).

But, Scranton being Scranton, I thought the best part of this whole thing is the coverage of the Marino/DeNaples story in the local Scranton paper, The Times Tribune:
The top federal prosecutor for Pennsylvania's Middle District plans to step down soon, a newspaper reported Friday, citing two anonymous sources.

U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Marino has served as the top federal prosecutor for central and northeastern Pennsylvania since 2002. The report in The Morning Call of Allentown did not say why Marino plans to leave in the next six weeks, and Marino's office declined to comment to The Associated Press on Friday.
Says it all.

Story is via Talking Points Memo, no less, who also noted this:
Late Update: A quick discussion with my crack US Attorney reporting team suggests that the article linked above may be a bit misleading about the reasons for Marino's departure and that US Attorney Thomas Marino may have been preparing to cash in his chips for other non-muck-related reasons.
UPDATE (8/25): The silent treatment by the Scranton Times-Tribune was also noted by Northeast PA media, who points to the complimentary coverage of DeNaples in these pieces, Wrecks to riches and DeNaples: mob links simply don't add up.

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