SCRANTON — The name of disgraced ex-state Sen. Robert J. Mellow has been removed from two buildings, a portion of one local college campus and one park.
On Thursday, Marywood University issued a statement saying, “After thoughtful consideration, The Marywood University Board of Trustees made the decision this past Saturday at their spring meeting to rename the university’s athletic center. The center originally named for Senator Robert J. Mellow, will for the foreseeable future be referred to as The Marywood University Center for Athletics and Wellness.”
Also, Lackawanna College President Mark Volk sent an email to all college staff members Thursday informing them that the campus’ Mellow Theater has been renamed.
“The college’s board of trustees met recently and after a serious discussion decided to name the college’s theater. Effective immediately, it is officially The Theater at Lackawanna College,” Volk wrote in the email obtained by The Times Leader.
Later Thursday afternoon, Keystone College in LaPlume announced: “In light of recent developments, Keystone College has removed the sign from the Mellow Family Children’s Campus at Keystone College.”
The Peckville Democrat, who had represented Lackawanna County and northern Luzerne County for years, is serving a federal sentence and also faces state charges.
On March 18 council members in Mellow’s home borough, Blakely, voted unanimously to remove his name from a park in the Peckville section and renamed it the Blakley Borough Recreational Park.
Mellow, 70, is serving 16 months at a federal prison in Williamsburg County, S.C., after he pleaded guilty last year to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud for using Senate staff to do political work for himself and his friends, as well as under reporting his income on his 2008 tax return. At his Nov. 30 sentencing, he was also given three years of supervised release.
Shortly after the sentence was handed down, Lackawanna College issued a statement noting that its Board of Trustees met Oct. 24 and “after a lengthy and thoughtful discussion, a majority consensus … was reached to leave the Mellow Theater name as it currently stands. This decision was made exclusively in recognition of the 30-plus years of dedication and service of Sen. Robert J. Mellow and the direct benefits of his efforts in support of Lackawanna College and its students.”
But since then, the state has charged the former Democratic leader in the Senate and seven others for their alleged roles in a pay-to-play scheme associated with the Pennsylvania Turnpike. A grand jury found that the eight used their power to influence the awarding of numerous multimillion-dollar contracts to political supporters, even when the contract winners were not the most qualified or had submitted bids far in excess of other contractors.
The state grand jury report charges Mellow with corrupt organizations, bribery, bid rigging, conspiracy and other offenses. Mellow was actively involved in steering contracts to particular vendors, the grand jury report says. He also imposed fundraising obligations on turnpike staff and vendors, and personally benefited from sports and entertainment gifts.