Wednesday, November 4, 2009


In an editorial today, the publisher of the Tri-County Courier-Express, Denny Bonavita, continues to point out the hypocrisy of partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett:
"Attorney General Tom Corbett is prosecuting people - so far, only Democrats - for, he claims, abusing their state-paid positions for political purposes.

But Corbett himself, now a candidate for governor in 2010, is allowing his staff members to take 'leaves of absence' to work on his campaign.

Other incumbents, Republicans and Democrats, have done the same thing, and will do it again next year.


Because we voters are stupid enough to allow them to get away with it...

We wonder how Corbett can continue the 'leaves of absence' practice with a straight face while prosecuting Democrats for abusing the system financially when he - and other incumbents - are egregiously abusing the system morally with this 'leaves of
absence' charade."
We wholeheartedly agree with Bonavita.

Not only does Corbett conduct his campaign no differently than those he is prosecuting with his "leaves of absense charade" but there is no separation of his political and official offices. Corbett campaign staff is parked at his OAG offices at the taxpayer expense and it has been documented that hundreds and hundreds of calls are made between the Corbett campaign and his official offices during the work day.

What would someone with subpoena power find at Corbett's Office of Attorney General if they slapped supoenas for documents and staff testimony on Corbett as aggressively as Corbett did with the House Democrats?


Anonymous said...

Dicky Scaife Owns Courier-Epress and Dicky Scaife has egregiously abused journalism, so that is a wash.

Anonymous said...

What needs further investigations is teh Kids For Cash abuses, and the deep pockets of The Zappalas Gang of Bonds needs to be held responsible by Class Action Lawsuits on behalf the children as well as Gambling Control behind the scenes.

Where is Dicky Scaife on those abuses?

Signor Ferrari said...

The Courier-Express is owned by McClean Publishing Co., not the Tribune-Review Publishing Co.

Anonymous said...

For those of us who are watching, this is unbelievable.

So, let's start placing bets. When will Corbett indict and perp walk the next round of thieves? March? April? Surely it will be timed to provide maximum possible political advantage and the uninformed masses will eat it up like a ham sandwich.

How do we get the word out about this? If the Tribune Review is solidly in the Corbett camp, you've got to get the Post Gazette on board and doing daily stories. If you don't, the uninformed voters will elect this clown to be our next Governor.

Anonymous said...

The next round of indictments will be right before the first trial so that he can prejudice the jury pool and assist in getting a conviction in the weakest case of all of them. He will rely on the press talking about how all politicians are corrupt and the truth of the accusations will not matter.

Anonymous said...

Word is Brett Feese resigned today.

Anonymous said...

Brett Feese resigned today

Anonymous said...


LaGrotta claims innocence in scandal, Former state representative, who pleaded guilty in Bonusgate case, writes memoir
Thursday, November 05, 2009
By Tracie Mauriello, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG -- Two years after pleading guilty to crimes he now says he did not commit, former state Rep. Frank LaGrotta is looking for exoneration in the court of public opinion -- something he was unable to get in the court of law.

He has written an as-yet-unpublished memoir that purports to lay out the early days of what later became known as the Bonusgate government corruption scandal.

The book is Mr. LaGrotta's description of what happens when power, ambition, arrogance and poor choices collide in a politically charged capital city.

The title of the book and its starting point -- "Be Careful, I'm Wired!" -- refers to a note a former employee and friend wrote on a napkin and passed to Mr. LaGrotta across a kitchen table in Ellwood City while an agent from the attorney general's office listened quietly from a bedroom upstairs.

The ending is undisputed: Mr. LaGrotta pleads guilty and is sentenced to six months of house arrest for using state money to pay his sister and a niece for work that prosecutors said they never did.

But some claims in the middle are based on Mr. LaGrotta's word against that of others.

For example, he excoriates Terry Shaffer, a childhood friend and former district-office staffer, who Mr. LaGrotta believes set prosecutors on his trail.

He wrote that Mr. Shaffer showed up at his Ellwood City home sobbing and saying he wanted to recant his testimony before a grand jury but prosecutors wouldn't let him.

Mr. Shaffer said that account is partly true:

He did visit the LaGrotta home. But he says he never told prosecutors he wanted to recant.

"I'm very hesitant to comment because I haven't seen [the book], but every word that I said before the grand jury I will stand by. Every word," he said in a telephone interview this week.

Mr. Shaffer said he made the visit because he wanted to "tell Frank he needed to be serious with the attorney general, that these people were not playing games."

He also wanted to tell Mr. LaGrotta that he "felt generally sorry for what happened to his family" because of the investigation spurred by a complaint he made about nepotism in the district office.

Mr. Shaffer said he had expected his complaint would help root out widespread government corruption, not result in charges against Mr. LaGrotta's sister, Ann Bartolomeo, and her daughter, Alissa Lemmon.

Mr. LaGrotta insists he did nothing illegal.

He says he pleaded guilty to two felony counts of conflict of interest only because he wanted to protect his sister and niece from expensive and painful criminal trials run by prosecutors he describes as unscrupulous and politically motivated.

"I was given no choice. I had to plead guilty to crimes I didn't commit or watch my family be tried for crimes they didn't commit," Mr. LaGrotta said.

He realizes that's hard to believe.

"Somebody said to me one time, 'When you're innocent you don't plead guilty,' and my answer was, 'How would you know?' " Mr. LaGrotta said. "You do what you've got to do to protect your family.

The justice system is not what it's cracked up to be, and Tom Corbett is not what he pretends to be."

Mr. Corbett is the Republican attorney general whose staff prosecuted Democrat LaGrotta along with Mrs. Bartolomeo and Ms. Lemmon, who both pleaded no contest to giving false testimony before a grand jury and were put on probation.


Anonymous said...


In his memoir, Mr. LaGrotta describes Mr. Corbett as "a life-long politician who desperately wants to be governor of Pennsylvania.

To achieve his goal, he has demonstrated a willingness to ignore the truth and prosecute innocent people to get headlines."

Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Mr. Corbett, said that's absurd.

"We became aware of alleged criminal activity of Frank LaGrotta, we investigated, we prosecuted and Frank LaGrotta pleaded guilty, simple as that," he said.

Mr. LaGrotta believes Mr. Corbett tried to use him to get evidence to support a separate investigation of allegations that House Democrats used tax dollars to subsidize political campaigns. Prosecutors were seeking evidence that House Democrats used nearly $1.9 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses to reward staffers who helped incumbents get re-elected.

Twelve people have been arrested as part of the alleged Bonusgate conspiracy and trials are scheduled for December and January.

Mr. LaGrotta says prosecutors leaned on him to help with that investigation. When he had little useful information to share, he claims, they threatened his sister and niece with jail on allegations they took state money for work prosecutors say they didn't do.

Mrs. Bartolomeo and Ms. Lemmon had been paid about $27,000 to sort committee notes, copies of legislation, constituent letters, speeches and other documents that the notoriously disorganized Mr. LaGrotta had accumulated over 20 years in office.

The records were supposed to be turned over to the House archives, which accepts donations of lawmakers' work files.

Archivist Heidi Mays said Mr. LaGrotta never turned over a single document.

Mr. LaGrotta doesn't dispute that. According to his book, the documents his sister and niece sorted were hauled away in a Dumpster on his orders in 2006.

"In retrospect, disposing of my records that way wasn't smart, but I was locked out of my office, my dad was in critical condition in intensive care and my successor [Rep. Jaret Gibbons] didn't want them," he says now. "I did what I did in haste, but it was not illegal."

In fact, he says that nothing he did was illegal, but the attorney general's office disagrees.

"Frank LaGrotta, in open court, admitted to his crime of stealing from the taxpayers. Either he was lying then or he was lying now," Mr. Harley said.

Mr. LaGrotta also expands on the title character, Josh Genova, who remained loyal even after Mr. LaGrotta fired him.

In an interview Monday, Mr. Genova corroborated a chapter in the book that describes him quietly warning that he was wearing a wire, then nervously asking Mr. LaGrotta to remind him what work he had done in the district office to earn his pay.

Agents from the attorney general's office "wanted me to say things like, 'Wow, it was like I did no work for you,' and he could say, 'Yeah.' But it wasn't like that. I worked hours and hours.

It was a real full-time job" driving Mr. LaGrotta around his legislative district and back and forth to Harrisburg, said Mr. Genova, now 25.

"They didn't want to hear that. They wanted to hear that I was being paid just to be his friend."

That's what made him decide to tip off Mr. LaGrotta with a note saying he was wearing a wire.

The 215-page memoir has been rejected by more than a dozen publishers, who have said the book isn't marketable outside Pennsylvania. Friends have suggested Mr. LaGrotta self-publish, but he says he can't afford it.

Meanwhile, he has been posting excerpts online at

"My mission is to let people know this can happen to you. It can happen to anyone," Mr. LaGrotta said. "Bad things happen to good people."

Tracie Mauriello can be reached at or 717-787-2141. Follow her at

Anonymous said...

"Signor Ferrari said...
The Courier-Express is owned by McClean Publishing Co., not the Tribune-Review Publishing Co. November 5, 2009 7:32 AM"

I stand corrected and thank you, Signor Ferrari, as usual you are accurate in providing information on others errors.

A show of true character in my opinion.