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Selenski costing county big bucks


February 16. 2013 10:30PM


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WILKES-BARRE ‚?? Defending and prosecuting Hugo Selenski on capital homicide charges has cost Luzerne County taxpayers money, with no end in sight.


Records from the county‚??s Controller‚??s Office show these expenses:


‚?Ę Shelley Centini, Selenski‚??s lead defense lawyer, has earned more than $68,500, 71 percent more than what was allotted by Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni III since she was appointed on Jan. 6, according to a court order.


‚?Ę $183,555 has been paid for various work for the prosecution, including expert witnesses, airfare, lodging and meals from 2005 through 2012.


‚?Ę More than $6,200 has been spent to transport Paul Weakley, 43, four times from federal prisons in the country to Luzerne County for questioning from August 2009 to March, records indicate. Weakley is expected to testify against Selenski. He is serving life in prison for his role in the killings of Michael Kerkowski and Tammy Fassett.


Centini, whose law office is in Wilkes-Barre, was to earn $85 per hour without benefits with a cap of $40,000 to defend Selenski, equal to about 470 hours of work. The court order that hired Centini as a private contractor is subject to change.


Centini declined to comment Thursday, citing a long-standing, court-imposed gag order. She did note there are sealed court orders about Selenski‚??s defense funding but did not provide details.


There were no payment records from the Controller‚??s Office to Selenski‚??s co-defense attorney, Edward Rymsza, who was appointed Jan. 24 at the hourly rate of $85 not to exceed $10,000.


Centini and Rymsza were appointed because they are death penalty certified defense attorneys.


Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Selenski if he is convicted of first-degree murder in the killings of Kerkowski and Fassett.


Before Centini and Rymsza were appointed, Selenski was represented by attorneys John Pike and David Lampman, conflict lawyers who earn a yearly salary of about $27,500 with benefits.


The cost of the total investigation and prosecution of Selenski is difficult, it not impossible, to calculate due to salaries of assistant district attorneys, detectives and state police troopers that have been involved or left since his arrest on June 5, 2003, when the bodies of Kerkowski and Fassett were found.


Selenski‚??s trial, which was scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection, was continued indefinitely Wednesday due to an expected appeal by Centini to the state Supreme Court.


Selenski expense examples


July 20, 2009: $11,210, Mito Typing Technologies for DNA examinations of bone fragments.



July 22, 2009: $1,960, Advance Concepts, which examined plastic flex ties.



April 19, 2010: $12,000, forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden.



April 21, 2011: $5,000, Paul Spear, a certified fraud examiner who analyzed Selenski‚??s earned income.



Sept. 12, 2011: $7,000, Paul Spear.



April 27 2012: $1,370, Advance Concepts.





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