News and Press Releases

Former Pennsylvania State Senator Robert Mellow charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to file a false tax return

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2012

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; George Venizelos, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Akeia Conner, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation Division, jointly announced that a Criminal Information was filed today in U.S. District Court in Scranton charging former Pennsylvania State Senator Robert J. Mellow, age 70, of Archbald, Pennsylvania, with conspiring with others between 2006 and 2010 to commit mail fraud in connection with a scheme and artifice to defraud the Pennsylvania Senate and to file a false federal income tax return.

     According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, during the time relevant to the Criminal Information, Mellow was a member of the Pennsylvania Senate, Senate Democratic Leader and a member of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee and Caucus. Mellow was also, at various times, responsible for several Senate Democratic administrative offices including, offices providing computer services, communications, and research. Mellow also supervised a staff in his Harrisburg Senate office and at two district offices located in Peckville and Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania.

     The Information alleges that Mellow, as a public official with the responsibilities described above, owed a duty to refrain from the improper use of Senate resources and staff to perform political fund-raising and campaign work and services for Mellow and for political causes and candidates he supported.

     The Information alleges that Mellow, in his capacity as a state Senator and the Democratic Leader during 2006 through 2010, conspired with others to misuse the staff and resources of the Pennsylvania Senate for political fund-raising and campaign purposes.

     The Information further alleges that as part of the scheme, Mellow caused and knowingly permitted, through willful blindness, the submission to the Chief Clerk of the Senate of false job classification and re-classification forms and memos for Senate staff who performed political fund-raising and campaign work while being compensated by the Senate.

     The Information alleges that Mellow conspired with others to misuse Senate staff and resources to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for an organization known as the Friends of Bob Mellow and the Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee, and to support political candidates and causes throughout Pennsylvania.

     It is further alleged that Mellow caused and permitted the U.S. mails to be used in furtherance of the scheme to defraud. The Information cites as examples checks mailed by the Senate’s Chief Clerk’s Office to pay for the rental of Mellow’s district offices in Peckville and Mt. Pocono, both of which offices were allegedly used to perform political fund-raising and campaign tasks; checks and pay stubs for Senate staffers who allegedly performed fund-raising and campaign work; and letters prepared and mailed by Senate staff in connection with Friends of Bob Mellow fund-raisers.

     The Information also alleges that Mellow conspired with others to file a false individual federal income tax return for the year 2008.

     Mellow faces a possible maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

     Today the U.S. Attorney’s Office also filed a plea agreement signed by the parties in this case. The plea agreement and its terms are a matter of public record. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, however, declined to make any specific comments concerning the agreement at this time, noting that under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, acceptance of the plea agreement and entry of a guilty plea are subject to the approval of the United States District Court and will be the subject matter of further proceedings before the Court.

     The case is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

     Prosecution of the case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorneys Francis P. Sempa and William S. Houser.

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An Indictment or Information is not evidence of guilt but simply a description of the charge made by the Grand Jury and/or United States Attorney against a defendant. A charged Defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the United States has proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant has pled guilty to the charges.

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