Accused Ponzi-scheme perpetrator and former Wilkes-Barre Area School District solicitor Anthony J. Lupas Jr. apparently will remain innocent until proven dead, to be judged not by jury but rather in the caustic court of public opinion.
A federal judge ruled this week Lupas, 78, doesn’t have the mental ability to stand trial.
Experts who assessed his condition say the longtime area attorney has exhibited “significant cognitive decline.” His defense attorneys called it an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease.
For the next four months, and possibly longer, Lupas will receive treatment from a suitable facility, according to U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani’s order issued Monday. Mariani requested an update on Lupas’ condition by mid-March, at which time he will again consider whether a trial can be scheduled.
In our non-medical opinion, the likelihood of Lupas next year — or ever — facing trial for allegedly hoodwinking his “friends” and acquaintances out of some $6 million stands somewhere between “fat chance” and “when pigs fly.”
For all parties involved, that’s an unsatisfying resolution.
With no courtroom date to defend his name on mail fraud and other charges, Lupas will never be able to escape the dark cloud of suspicion. Alleged victims won’t receive further explanations and understanding. Justice will not be served, at least not in any conventional, legal fashion. And the public will be left to wonder if Lupas is a con man extraordinaire, an unfairly accused target, an infirm geezer or some combination of those and other characters.
His case, which came to light in March 2012, appears likely to leave area residents conflicted about their community and the people in its positions of authority.
Unfortunately, that’s also true for much of the fallout in the past four-plus years from the federal crackdown on this region’s pervasive public corruption.
Former state Sen. Raphael “Ray” Musto, accused of accepting kickbacks in exchange for his actions as an elected official, has not yet been tried. Commercial real estate developer Robert Mericle, a key figure in the juvenile justice scandal, has not yet been sentenced. Some crooked school board officials and others already have served their prison terms and returned to the community, presumably to do … what? Put the past behind them? Make amends?
Unethical decisions and illegal actions of the 30-plus people convicted in the 2009-2011 crackdown continue to cripple Luzerne County. Residents understandably wonder who can be trusted. In what institutions can we place our faith? Dare we forgive?
In Lupas’ case, can we extend sympathy and support to his relatives, who watch as a loved one succumbs to a cruel disease? Under the surrounding legal circumstances, under any circumstances, how can we not?
This tragedy, like many of Shakespeare’s, has spared no one in its wake, least of all its protagonist. Lupas’ brain continues to fail him, according to what we know of the disease’s progression, the tissue shrinking, rendering him more and more helpless. His ability to communicate diminishes, his delusions grow.
He fears, court records tell us, that people are stealing his money.