Public Corruption Prosecutions
This web page is a means for the public to be informed of the status of pending and recent cases of great and/or continuing public interest involving or related to public corruption. The web page information will be updated periodically.
For publicly available information on other cases prosecuted as part of the U.S. Attorney's Office's continuing focus on public corruption as a high priority, please check our website or contact our media representative at 717-221-4482. In coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, the office is continuing to investigate and prosecute alleged federal, state, and local corruption and government program fraud throughout the district.
If you believe that you have information relating to criminal wrongdoing relating to federal, state, and/or local political corruption in the Middle District of Pennsylvania please contact the the U.S. Attorney's Office via email email@example.com or phone at 717-221-4482 or the nearest FBI office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania:
FBI State College
FBI Allentown (Schuylkill County)
On September 9, 2022, Peperno was convicted of soliciting bribes from a local business owner to provide to Robert Semenza, Jr., the former President of the Old Forge Borough Council. Peperno also was convicted of providing and promising cash and future employment to Semenza, in exchange for Semenza performing and promising to perform official acts, in relation to a state court civil litigation between Old Forge Borough and the local business owner. Semenza advocated on behalf of the local business owner with the Old Forge Borough Council, the Old Forge Borough Solicitor, and Old Forge zoning officials, including by proposing a resolution to the civil litigation that had been prepared by Peperno. Semenza previously pled guilty to accepting the bribe payments from Peperno and awaits sentencing. Peperno was also convicted of making false statements and giving perjured testimony in connection with an outstanding restitution obligation owed from a prior federal conviction for mail fraud. Peperno claimed, in a written filing and when testifying under oath, that he did not have any income or access to any bank accounts, despite receiving approximately $6,000 from the local business owner, in the weeks immediately preceding his false statements and perjured testimony. Peperno, who owed approximately $390,000 on his outstanding restitution obligation, had not made any payments towards that debt in approximately one and one-half years. Peperno is awaiting sentencing.
Jeffrey J. Vaughn
A former Scranton Police Sergeant, Jeffrey J. Vaughn, age 50, was charged on August 25, 2022, with theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. The information alleged that Vaughn, while working as a sergeant in the Scranton Police Department, which is an entity that receives over $10,000 a year in federal funding, knowingly obtained by fraud over $5,000 in compensation that was paid to him for certain extra duty patrol shifts at local, lower-income housing complexes that Vaughn claimed to work but did not in fact work. Vaughn is awaiting trial.
The Chief of Police for the West Hazleton Police Department, Brian Buglio, age 46, of Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on June 22, 2021 to a deprivation of civil rights, after he threatened a private citizen with felony criminal charges, in retaliation for social media posts created by the private citizen that were critical of Buglio and of the West Hazleton Police Department. Buglio was sentenced on October 5, 2021 to two months of imprisonment and a one-year term of supervised release that includes four months of home confinement.
Former Scranton Police Officer, Thomas McDonald, age 47, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on June 14, 2021 to a federal bribery violation. McDonald, while working as a police officer for the Scranton Police Department in April 2018, corruptly solicited for his own benefit, sex and sexual favors from Person #1, intending to be influenced in official actions of the Scranton Police Department and the City of Scranton. McDonald’s related conduct also included felony bribery violations with respect to Persons #2 through #4. McDonald was terminated from his position as a Scranton Police Officer in June 2020. McDonald was sentenced to 72 months' imprisonment on February 17, 2022.
Former Police Detective with the Carlisle Police Department and FBI Taskforce Officer Christopher Collare, age 53, of Blythewood, South Carolina, used his official position to obtain sex from two women in exchange for agreeing to take actions in prosecutions. Specifically, in 2015, Collare agreed to accept sex in exchange for not appearing at an evidentiary hearing so that a criminal charge would be dismissed. In 2018, Collare agreed to accept sexual favors in exchange for taking steps to help reduce a potential sentence. Collare distributed heroin in 2016. He also lied in November 2015 on a federal form he completed during the process of becoming an FBI task force officer, and he made multiple false statements in an interview with federal agents in May 2018. On July 16, 2021, Collare was convicted of federal program bribery, bribery by a federal official, distribution of heroin, and six counts of false statements. Collare was taken into custody following the verdict. Collare was sentenced to 75 months' imprisonment on March 10, 2022.
Shelley A. Dreyer-Aurila
Former Executive Director of the Perry County Family Center, Shelley A. Dreyer-Aurila, age 55, of New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, was sentenced on April 28, 2021 to 15 months’ imprisonment for embezzlement of funds involving federal programs. Between 2010 and 2017, Drey-Aurila embezzled and converted to her own personal use more than $150,000 that was under the care and control of the Center. During that period, the Center annually received more than $10,000 in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services, to fund programs like its Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program and its Child Abuse Prevention program. Dreyer-Aurila was also ordered to pay $127,764.56 in restitution. She had previously repaid $22,520.
William L. Courtright
Scranton Mayor William L. Courtright, age 61, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 7 years' imprisonment on October 2, 2020, following his guilty plea on July 2, 2019, to a criminal information charging him with three felony public corruption offenses. Courtright resigned from his position as Mayor of Scranton on July 1, 2019. The criminal information charged Courtright with engaging in a multi-year conspiracy with unidentified individuals to take bribes from vendors who did business with the City. The information also alleged that other objectives of the conspiracy were to commit the offenses of attempted extortion under color of official right and extortion through use of fear of economic harm. Courtright’s corrupt activities came to light during a multi-year undercover investigation headed by the FBI. The undercover investigation revealed that the former mayor accepted cash payments from vendors doing business with the city in a pay-to-play scheme.
Edward Weidow, age 65, of Scranton, was charged on July 22, 2019, in a criminal information with making false statements to federal investigators in a public corruption investigation involving former Mayor of Scranton, William Courtright. The criminal information alleged that Weidow took cash from vendors and then transferred the cash to former Mayor of Scranton William Courtright. The information further alleged that on January 9, 2019, Weidow was interviewed by the FBI and denied giving cash to Courtright, when in fact on numerous occasions, he had done so. Weidow entered a guilty plea and was sentenced on October 29, 2020 to two years' probation and 100 hours of community service.