WYOMING — Former Wyoming Mayor Bob Boyer defended himself to the press on Friday following a police search of his home, accusing his successor of inventing allegations as political retaliation.
Investigators served a warrant Friday, then spent several hours searching Boyer’s Shulde Lane home for evidence linking a state grant application by the borough to his catering business, run out of a neighboring volunteer fire company’s hall.
“The warrant basically says that I used my position as the mayor to support a grant that would benefit a business, which is not true,” Boyer said.
Instead, Boyer told reporters he believes Mayor Joseph Dominick fabricated claims that prompted the search.
Dominick dismissed the accusations, saying he was puzzled how Boyer could claim retaliation. Dominick, a Republican, outpolled Boyer, a Democrat, nearly three to one in the November 2017 general election.
“It’d be laughable if it wasn’t so sad,” Dominick said.
What police sought
An affidavit supporting the warrant stated the $444,810 Local Share Account gambling grant in question would have upgraded the heating and air conditioning systems and expanded the kitchen at the West Wyoming Hose Co. 1 on Shoemaker Avenue, which Boyer lists as the address for his catering and food truck business.
The affidavit states that investigators were contacted by West Wyoming Hose Co. President Jerome Walsh, who provided them with a copy of the application, board minutes and related documents which he had requested from Wyoming Borough under a Right to Know request.
One of those documents was a resolution showing that Borough Manager Tamra Smith — Boyer’s girlfriend — was one of the people authorized to execute paperwork related to the grant.
The affidavit said Smith works for Boyer’s catering business, noting that she responded to a Facebook post inquiring if Boyer Brothers Bar-B-Que and Deli Food Truck traveled to Scranton by writing “Yes we can.”
Investigators interviewed Wyoming Councilman Michael Baloga who told them he remembered executive sessions at which Boyer and Smith “were very adamant” about obtaining the grant for the neighboring municipality.
In January, state troopers and federal agents raided Smith’s own home and her accounting business in connection with alleged financial mismanagement while she was treasurer for the Wyoming Free Library and Wyoming Hose Co. 1.
No charges have been filed. Despite concerns raised by a councilman and others, Smith has been allowed to remain in her post.
Boyer said Friday that the raids were unrelated.
The fact that investigators were at his house — and not at the hose company a few miles away, where he said he rented the kitchen to cater events at the banquet hall — supported his case that he did nothing wrong, Boyer argued.
The grant, prepared by a professional grant writer, was to expand the firehouse to add a paramedic unit, Boyer said. He supported the application, which was approved at a public meeting, he said.
“There was no benefit to a catering business that I use maybe five times a year,” said Boyer.
“I did advertise the Shoemaker Street address,” he acknowledged, saying it was to benefit the fire company.
“I promoted the address of the hall to get revenue for the fire department because they’re volunteers,” Boyer added.
A professor of criminal justice at Luzerne County Community College, Boyer said the food truck is a hobby: “Some guys hunt. Some guys fish. I sling hash, you know.”
Boyer also slung accusations of campaign finance violations, obstruction of justice and political payback for speaking out.
“But this warrant here today is retaliatory because of my testimony in a police misconduct case,” Boyer protested. He said he could not discuss the matter further.
“I would never do anything to betray the public trust. I was the mayor for 12 years. I was proud to serve as mayor. This town got me started as a cop when I was 19 years old,” Boyer told media during one of two meetings with them on the street outside his house while the search was underway.
Contrary to Boyer’s claim that Dominick “torpedoed” the grant applied for in late 2017, West Wyoming officials withdrew the application when a media report showed Boyer stood to profit from the grant, Dominick said.
“It appears he’s circling the drain and trying to take as many people down as he can and I’m not going to be one of them,” said Dominick.