Last week I wrote about former Luzerne County deputy clerk Bill Brace and how “Big Billy” was the 19th politician to plead guilty to corruption. Brace got nailed for accepting a $1,500 custom tailored suit in exchange for making sure a contractor secured a contract with the county.
This week things have gotten interesting and speculation is running wild with the latest developments that occurred over the past few days.
First, former restaurant owner, turned dead-beat, Jeff Piazza resigned suddenly from a job at the Wilkes-Barre Career & Technical Center where he was making a pretty good salary. This is the same Piazza who is son of politically connected Auggie Piazza and is the same Piazza who defaulted on a county loan for over a hunded-grand from his failed restaurant venture. He’s also the same Piazza who was hired by Anthony Trombetta, who is the subject of several county contracts that are under the microscope, to work in his ill-fated restaurant venture. (Restaurant owners note: Don’t hire Jeff, he’s bad luck.)
Care to speculate on what’s going on there?
Then on Monday, county HR director Doug Richards resigns from his $71k a year job saying he’s taking a job in the private sector. Dougie is under scrutiny for awarding a no-bid contract to Continental Consulting Group Inc. of New York City, who is now being investigated by a federal grand jury. Continental was paid $807,770 in 2007-2008 to process payroll payments to county contract employees. Then in a twist of fate, County Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla today issues a statement saying Richards has been fired.
According to the Times Leader newspaper, Petrilla questioned Richards about “issues facing Luzerne County” and he refused to answer. Earth to Maryanne…. shouldn’t you have been asking questions all along? Where were you when that contract was awarded? How did a contract get awarded to a company without commissioner approval? Were you on a deserted island with Gilligan and the Skipper while all this was going on?
Care to speculate some more?
Wait. Not yet. As all this is unfolding, county Judge Michael Toole clears his calendar and reschedules the rest of his November court cases to December and January. President Judge Chester Murowski called this move “unexpected.” It’s hard not to speculate on what’s going on here considering Toole’s tipstaff testified before a federal grand jury earlier this year. Two county judges are already facing hefty jail terms for accepting bribes in the “Kids for Cash” scandal that rippled through the county and has been featured in the national media and even in a Michael Moore film.
One has to wonder what exactly is going on in Luzerne County. Judges, elected officials, school directors, high ranking officials – they’ve all been taken down so far in the ongoing investigation into public corruption.
But when will it end?
Who is going to be next?
Don’t blink, you may miss the next takedown!