Motion claims developer ‘failed to fulfill the obligations’ of plea deal

Last updated: January 30. 2014 11:41PM - 3247 Views
By - elewis@timesleader.com

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SCRANTON — Federal prosecutors want to revisit the plea accord with commercial real estate developer Robert Mericle to determine if he violated any conditions of the agreement.

In a motion requesting a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik, federal prosecutors believe Mericle “has failed to fulfill the obligations under his plea agreement and has thus breached the agreement.”

Mericle, 50, of Shavertown, pleaded guilty in September 2009 to withholding information in the Luzerne County judicial corruption scandal. His sentence has been delayed due to the plea agreement’s mandate that he cooperate in other cases, including that of former state Sen. Raphael Musto.

Kosik scheduled Mericle’s sentencing hearing for Feb. 26.

Under the plea agreement, federal prosecutors were expected to recommend a four-month prison sentence for Mericle. But Kosik is not bound by the agreement and could sentence Mericle to up to three years.

Federal prosecutors say the agreement provides that if they receive information Mericle committed new crimes while he waited to be sentenced, prosecutors may request to withdraw from the plea agreement and suggest a stiffer sentence.

Details about Mericle’s alleged breach of the plea agreement were not listed in the motion filed late Wednesday in federal court.

Mericle and his attorney, William J. Winning, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors alleged Mericle, at the request of former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, paid Robert Powell a finder’s fee, about $1 million, for a contract to build the PA Child Care juvenile detention center in Pittston Township.

Powell in return paid Ciavarella and former county Judge Michael Conahan the finder’s fee. Prosecutors said the two judges disguised the source of the income from Mericle.

Ciavarella was convicted in February 2011 of 12 counts related to his acceptance of $1 million from Mericle, and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Conahan pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced in September 2011 to 17 1/2 years in prison.

A trial for Musto, 84, of Pittston Township, was continued indefinitely earlier this month when U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo ruled he is mentally incompetent. Musto is accused of accepting $25,000 from a construction company for various projects in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. Musto’s lawyers identified the company as Mericle’s.

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