The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a second superseding indictment has been returned against former State Senator Raphael J. Musto, Pennsylvania 14th Senatorial District. This new indictment amends previous charges brought against Senator Musto, who is currently scheduled for trial on January 6, 2014.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, Senator Musto, age 85, of Pittston, was originally charged in an indictment in November 2011. Those charges alleged that Senator Musto accepted $25,000 cash payment from a construction contractor whom had developed various properties in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties. Senator Musto accepted the $25,000 in cash, as well as other things of value from the contractor, as part of a stream of benefits designed to secure Senator Musto’s continued support of various construction projects which were to the financial benefit of the company.
In addition, Senator Musto was alleged to have accepted thousands of dollars in cash from another individual affiliated with Northeast Pennsylvania municipal authorities. That cash payment was accepted by Senator Musto as a reward for prior official action taken by the senator where he assisted the municipal authorities obtain loans and grants. In addition, Senator Musto accepted these funds intending to be influenced in his future official decisions.
In October 2012, the original indictment was superseded by a grand jury to include two new charges of public corruption. In 2006, Senator Musto is alleged to have accepted $1,000 and other benefits from an individual affiliated with a municipality in return for his assistance with passing through a loan application for the municipality. Senator Musto is alleged to have done the same, for the same individual, in 2008, again in return for his assistance with the passage of a loan application for local municipalities.
The Indictment returned Wednesday amended portions of this indictment to include a broader array of things of value provided to Senator Musto and changed one of the charges in the indictment.
In October 2012, attorneys for Senator Musto filed a motion with the court to dismiss the pending charges, or to indefinitely postpone the trial, because of Senator Musto’s physical health. The government objected to this request and Senior United States District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo agreed. The defense appealed this decision to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court denied the appeal and on October 22, 2013, the case was returned to Judge Caputo who scheduled it for trial on January 6, 2014.
On November 15, 2013, Senator Musto filed a renewed motion with the court to indefinitely postpone the trial. In this latest motion, the defense has identified the senator’s deteriorating physical health as well was his mental competency to stand trial as reasons for the trial postponement. The United States has not agreed with this request and will be filing a response asking Judge Caputo to schedule a hearing where the defense will be required to prove that Senator Musto is unable to withstand trial and/or assist his attorneys.
This case is part of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service and is being prosecuted by a team of federal prosecutors led by Senior Litigation Counsel Gordon Zubrod and includes Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Houser, Michael Consiglio, Amy Phillips John Gurganus and Criminal Division Chief Christian Fisanick.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.