Last updated: May 27. 2014 4:56PM - 2938 Views
By - rdupuis@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE — Michael Joseph Scerbo, a prison inmate who investigators said had planned to hire a hit man to kill a witness in the double-homicide trial of Hugo Selenski, is seeking a “less severe” punishment than the 15-to-30-year prison sentence handed down in the case earlier this month.

Scerbo pleaded guilty in January 2013 to a charge of criminal solicitation to commit criminal homicide. The 41-year-old was sentenced May 16 by Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough.

Selenski faces trial on the flex-tie strangulation killings of Tammy Fassett and Michael Kerkowski in 2002.

According to paperwork filed Tuesday, Scerbo notes that while Vough’s penalty “reflected a significant downward departure,” he requests the judge reconsider the sentence for several reasons:

• Scerbo says he “has taken full responsibility for his actions and demonstrated genuine remorse and contriteness” for what he did. Investigators said Scerbo offered money to a “hit man” he met in the prison’s visitation room on March 29, 2012, to kill Paul Weakley, 44, a key prosecution witness against Selenski. The hit man was an undercover trooper, state police said.

• Scerbo suffers from “physical and psychiatric conditions requiring additional, specialized care,” paperwork states.

• “Mr. Scerbo has a family, including an ill parent, for whom he must provide,” his motion states.

• Finally, the motion states that Scerbo “has taken substantial steps following his guilty plea and prior to his sentencing” that the judge should consider.

Scerbo, serving an unrelated forgery sentence, was jailed with Weakley at the Pike County Correctional Facility in 2008 and was housed in a cell next to Selenski’s in the restrictive housing uni at SCI-Retreat during 2011. Investigators said in arrest records that Scerbo and Selenski, were able to talk to one another while in adjacent cells.

The motion was filed by defense attorney Peter John Moses.

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