To all you would be criminals out there, do some good deeds, create some jobs and then commit some crimes. The latter won’t matter.
“Imprisonment would not achieve any public benefit,” said the lawyers for powerhouse local developer Robert Mericle.
Either would holding former state senator Raphael Musto accountable for his alleged crimes. Or former Wilkes-Barre Area solicitor and alleged Bernie Madoff clone, Tony Lupas. Good guys both. So what the former was charged with using his elected office to line his own pockets while the latter bilked school district taxpayers by racking up unbelievable legal fees and allegedly swindled his friends who invested with him?
While we’re at it, leave the honorable former state senator Robert Mellow alone already. Having him locked up is not beneficial to the public. He’s no threat. So what he used his elected office for financial gain? He also brought home a lot of bacon for his constituents. So, like Bob Mericle, isn’t this a wash?
Even federal prosecutors are for giving Mericle a break because if he didn’t turn on the very judges he paid off, the investigation may have been derailed, The Times Leader reported. So what he only did that when he himself became implicated in the infamous “Kids for Cash” scheme?
“A defendant with his resources is always in a position to do much good, especially financial good, for the community,” U.S. Attorney Peter Smith wrote. “However, the good works should not appear as a shield or cloak to avoid the consequences of criminal conduct,” he added.
If you say so, Pete. Yeah, make him spend the next six months on probation or, worse, wallowing in the comforts of his Jackson Township home. That’ll teach him.
And while we’re at it, let’s spring former Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan from prison. Why should they spend the rest of their lives paying for their crimes? Before he got greedy, Ciavarella was praised for his tough love sentences, trying to scare wayward youths and juvenile delinquents into learning the difference between right and wrong before it was too late. Doesn’t that count for something?
So what the once respected judge Ciavarella couldn’t resist the $2 million his buddy Robert Mericle dangled before him for helping him land two lucrative contracts to build the two now infamous “Kids for Cash” prisons, which put Luzerne County on the map?
Mericle’s ”continued presence is an asset to the Northeastern Pennsylvnia community,” say his lawyers.
No one is accusing Robert Mericle of being a common criminal. He’s not; he just knows how to game the system, and when it suits him, he brings down the elected and appointed officials who couldn’t resist the cash and gifts he brought to their tables. He is the culprit.
So when Mericle is sentenced on April 25, and if Senior U.S. Judge Edwin Kosik defers to the wishes of Mericle’s lawyers, the prosecution and his community beneficiaries to go easy on him, no one will be surprised.
And why should we care anyway? We already know that there are two sets of rules, one for the powerful and politically-connected, and one for everyone else.
- Betty Roccograndi