WILKES-BARRE — Dogged by controversy, mounting tax debt and a theft conviction, suspended city towing contractor Leo A. Glodzik III now faces federal charges over allegations that he and four others improperly secured loans from the Wilkes-Barre City Employees Federal Credit Union.
Indicted along with Glodzik were city police officer Jason Anthony and former city police officer Tino Ninotti, as well as a credit union official and another man who was indicted in a separate but similar case.
That credit union official, assistant manager Amanda Magda, is the niece of James Payne, 50, who had been the manager before he took his own life inside his home in Bear Creek Township on March 10.
Payne’s death came about a week after federal investigators served a subpoena at the credit union for financial records.
Located on the first floor of Wilkes-Barre City Hall, the credit union is not a municipal department, but serves city employees and their families, including municipal employees in Wilkes-Barre Township and Plains Township.
Glodzik, 43, of Wilkes-Barre, is accused of giving Ninotti, 35, a vehicle identification number when Ninotti applied for a $25,086.97 loan to purchase a 2011 Dodge Ram pickup truck on March 23, 2012, according to the indictment.
The loan was not used to purchase the Dodge and the vehicle identification number Ninotti listed on the loan application as collateral did not match the pickup truck, the indictment says.
Magda, 30, was charged with witnessing Ninotti allegedly sign the loan application using another name of a credit union member.
In a separate indictment, Magda and current city police officer Anthony, 34, were charged with a dirty loan when Anthony signed a woman’s name in securing a $7,159.30 loan on Jan. 15. Anthony’s signature of the woman’s name was witnessed by Magda, the indictment says.
The person whose name Anthony signed on the loan document was unaware that the loan was secured in her name, federal prosecutors allege.
Federal officials charged a fifth person Thursday, Jeffrey Serafin, 35, a member of the credit union, who was separately indicted by a grand jury with signing another credit union member’s name to secure a $10,000 loan.
If convicted, they each face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Their arrests cap months of speculation following the federal subpoena of credit union records, as well as about whether FBI officials had their eye on Glodzik, whose defense attorney repeatedly denied that his client was the target of any federal probe.
The longtime city towing contractor was suspended from his $50,050 yearly towing contract with the city on May 31, 2013, the day he was arrested in an unrelated theft case.
A Luzerne County jury in May unanimously found Glodzik III guilty of theft but not guilty of theft from a motor vehicle in that case, in which Glodzik, owner of LAG Towing in Wilkes-Barre, faced allegations he took $2,100 from a vehicle he towed on Jan. 29, 2013, after what he was told had been a drug arrest, and put the money in his pocket.
Glodzik is appealing the conviction, but his towing contract remains suspended pending the outcome of that matter, Wilkes-Barre Mayor Thomas Leighton has said.
Court documents did not list addresses for any of the suspects. Charges filed against the five are:
• Glodzik: Criminal conspiracy to commit bank fraud and tampering with a witness.
• Ninotti: Bank fraud and criminal conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
• Anthony: Bank fraud and criminal conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
• Magda: Bank fraud and criminal conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
• Serafin: Bank fraud.
Serafin’s charges are not connected to the indictments of Glodzik, Ninotti, Anthony and Magda.
U.S. Attorney Peter Smith said the grand jury seated in Scranton issued the indictments on Tuesday. The indictments were unsealed Thursday when the five people were arrested or surrendered.
Ninotti was hired as a police officer in Wilkes-Barre in July 2002 and retired due to a work-related disability in 2013. Anthony was hired as a police officer in February 2005.
In a statement, Police Chief Gerard Dessoye said a disciplinary hearing for Anthony will be scheduled as soon as possible.
All five appeared before U.S. District Court Magistrate Karoline Mehalchick and released without bail.
Ninotti was permitted to go on a pre-paid family vacation overseas but must provide pre-trial services with his vacation plans. He was ordered to surrender his passport when he returns.
Glodzik, who is not permitted to leave Luzerne County pending an unrelated theft conviction in Luzerne County court, said he does not have a passport. Anthony also claimed he did not have a passport.
Ninotti, Anthony and Magda had no comment when they rushed out of the Max Rosenn U.S. District Courthouse on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre. Glodzik stayed inside the courthouse lobby for about one hour before he dashed to a Ford Explorer driven by a federal agent that briefly stopped to pick him up at West South and South Main streets.
Glodzik was taken to the federal courthouse in the same Ford when he was arrested just after 11 a.m. at his home on Morgan Drive in Miners Mills.