WILKES-BARRE — Former Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority Director Fred DeSanto must serve 12 months of house arrest and ask that his name be removed from a little league field.
Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough on Friday also sentenced DeSanto, 64, of Pittston, to pay a $10,000 fine and perform 300 hours of community service with the Challenger Little League and Victory Sports Baseball League programs for children and adults with disabilities, both of which he helped organize.
The house arrest was part of a 48-month sentence of placement in the court’s Intermediate Punishment Program.
DeSanto pleaded guilty in February to one felony count of diversion of services, admitting he used WVSA staff to do work for the District 16 Little League, for which he was a district administrator, while they were on the clock for the authority.
Prior to sentencing, DeSanto’s attorney, Frank Nocito, told Vough that DeSanto has made full restitution to the authority, and noted that his client has been involved in numerous community activities and volunteer activities through his entire adult life, “donating thousands of hours of his time.”
Nocito noted that DeSanto founded the Pittston Township Little League in 1975 and served as president for 20 years before he was named district administrator.
Nocito asked Vough to consider that DeSanto’s act benefited the Little League rather than DeSanto himself.
But Vough disagreed.
“It’s important for you to know the diversion of services was for your benefit,” Vough told DeSanto, also noting that the work was supported by authority ratepayers.
According to an affidavit, Detective R. Gary Capitano of the District Attorney’s Office interviewed 57 WVSA employees. Based upon Capitano’s investigation, it was determined that 22 employees had performed Little League work under DeSanto’s direction, from 2004 through 2012, court documents say.
But investigators were limited to an eight-year statutory limit. They have said that the crime cost the authority more than $30,000.
“So putting you in jail and having the taxpayers support you further will not benefit anyone,” Vough said, explaining his reasoning behind the sentence, which would allow DeSanto to perform community service while on house arrest.
And Vough wasn’t satisfied with the house arrest, fine and community service, given the nature of the crime.
“What I find disturbing is that your name is on the Pittston Township Little League field,” Vough told DeSanto.
While Vough said he couldn’t order the league to remove DeSanto’s name from the field, he did order DeSanto to write a letter to league authorities within five days asking that his name be removed from the field, which is called Fred DeSanto Stadium. Vough also ordered DeSanto to pay any costs associated with the removal.
When DeSanto was asked for his reaction to the sentence when he stepped outside of the courtroom, Nocito said his client would have nothing to say.
Capitano referred comment to District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, who could not be reached for comment.
Nocito said he thought Vough carefully weighed all of the mitigating circumstances in the case and imposed a fair sentence.
DeSanto earned a salary of $116,084 when he retired, according to the authority’s finance department.
The sanitary authority’s service area includes 35 municipalities in Luzerne County from Newport Township to the Pittston area.