"What's black and white and read all over?"

Monday, March 10, 2008
Posted 9:22 PM by

Full text of Morganelli's press release

Since Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli sent his press release via e-mail, but did not post it on his Web site, I'd thought I'd print the whole thing for you to read his rather lengthy argument.

The underlined portions were emphasized by Morganelli, not by me. It's verbatim, except I cleaned up a few extra spaces here and there.

FOR RELEASE: Monday March 10, 2008

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli Says AG Tom Corbett Compromises Integrity of Office of Attorney General By Failing To Cut Financial Ties To Alleged Mob Associate Louis DeNaples

Today, I am requesting Attorney General Tom Corbett to immediately return all monies, which appear to be somewhere between $40,000 - $55,000 , that were contributed to him by Mr. Louis DeNaples and any entities controlled by Mr. DeNaples including, but not limited to, RAM Consultants and D& L Realty. It is completely unacceptable to have the state's chief law enforcement officer financially tied to a person who is under indictment by a Pennsylvania grand jury for perjury, allegedly for lying about his ties to the mob and organized crime in order to obtain a gaming license. Mr. Corbett's recalcitrance compromises the integrity of the Office of Attorney General.

First, let me make one point perfectly clear: Mr. Denaples IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY IN A COURT OF LAW BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, and THE CHARGES AGAINST HIM ARE ONLY, AT THIS POINT, ALLEGATIONS. I do not know Mr. DeNaples and have no opinion of him. My concerns today are not about Mr. DeNaples who is entitled to due process, but about our Attorney General. It is astonishing that our Attorney General sees no problem with the chief law enforcement officer of the state keeping large amounts of money given to him by a person who is now indicted for perjury, allegedly for lying about his ties to the mob and organized crime in order to obtain a gaming license which Mr. Corbett oversees as Attorney General.

Here are the facts:

1. Pennsylvania law at 4 Pa.CSA 1517 (c.1) provides that the Attorney General has the PRIMARY authority to investigate and institute criminal proceedings under the gaming law. In fact, the legislature specifically authorized the creation of a gaming unit in OAG. Although the law recognizes that each individual District Attorney ALSO has powers to investigate and institute criminal proceedings (4 Pa.CSA 1517(d)(1)), the law SPECIFICALLY grants the authority to the AG and creates the "gaming unit" in OAG. See also 4 Pa.CSA 1517 (d)(2).

2. In 2004 and 2005, Tom Corbett received a number of separate campaign contributions from Mr. Louis DeNaples. Campaign records show that Mr. Corbett received the following contributions:

January 27, 2004 - $10,000 from D&L Realty
April 15, 2004 - $25,000 from D&L Realty
January 20, 2005- $5,000 from D&L Realty

Online campaign records may not be complete , and contributions to Mr. Corbett totaling $55,000 were reported in the Philadelphia Inquierer on September 16, 2007 by reporter Craig McCoy. The largest single contribution received by Mr. Corbett on April 15, 2004, was less than 3 months BEFORE the slots law was passed on July 5, 2004. The contribution to Mr. Corbett on January 20, 2005 was just 2 days after the day Mr. Corbett was sworn in as Attorney General and well after the slots law had passed giving oversight of gaming law to the Attorney General. Once Mr. DeNaples applied for a casino license, Mr. DeNaples was barred by law from making campaign contributions. But DeNaples was smart enough to make all the contributions BEFORE applying, gaining favor with Mr. Corbett, the chief law enforcement officer of Pennsylvania specifically charged with gaming enforcement.

3. On March 2, 2008, Sharon Smith of the Patriot News reported that Attorney General Corbett defiantly refuses to return the large campaign contributions received from Mr.Louis DeNaples who is presently under indictment by a Pennsylvania grand jury for perjury, allegedly for lying under oath about his ties to the mob and organized crime in order to gain a slots license. Mr. Corbett's refusal to cut his financial ties with the alleged mob associate was also reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on March 9, 2008.

Clearly, the financial ties between Mr. Corbett and Mr. Denaples has been and will continue to be troublesome for the integrity and independence of the OAG. It has in effect handicapped the Attorney General in his legal duty to oversee gaming. For example, Attorney General Corbett had authority to investigate Mr. DeNaples for perjury, but chose to permit Dauphin County DA Ed Marsico to pursue the matter. Mr. Corbett's spokesman has said that the large amounts of money Mr. Cobett received from Mr. DeNaples played no role in Mr. Corbett's deferral to DA Marsico. But how can the public be so assured? There is an appearance that the Corbett/DeNaples connection hampered the Attorney General. There is an appearance of impropriety. The public deserves to hear in detail, directly from Mr. Corbett, and NOT his spokesperson, on why he passed on the DeNaples alleged perjury matter. Was it the money he got from Mr. DeNaples? A friendship? Some other reason?

Another question that needs to be answered is why the state police brought the DeNaples case to the DA instead of the AG. WHY? Or did, perhaps, the state police bring the case to the AG and he declined? The DA of Dauphin County Ed Marsico appears to be doing the heavy lifting on DeNaples and other gambling related matters. It has been reported that DA Marsico was asked to handle prosecutions of several individuals who ran afoul of the gambling act's provisions regulating political campaign contributions. Mr. Marsico reportedly said that these "minor" cases were settled with regulatory fines and without criminal charges. If this is so, why is DA Marsico handling these matters when AG Corbett is primarily charged with gaming enforcement and has a specific unit in the OAG to do so?

The Corbett/DeNaples financial tie also hampers the OAG going forward. On Sunday March 9, 2008, the Pittburgh Tribune Review rightly called for an investigation into the clearly inconsistent testimony between state police officials and others regarding the issuing of the license to Mr. DeNaples. Unfortunately, the Tribune-Review's call for the Attorney General to investigate cannot occur until Mr. Corbett gives back the DeNaples money. Mr. Corbett cannot ignore the clear conflict of interest he has relative to any investigations related to the DeNaples license.

It is perplexing why AG Corbett continues to fail to recognize conflicts of interest. Just like the BonusGate investigation where he is also severely conflicted and continues to jeopardize the ultimate outcome of any prosecutions, here again Mr. Corbett is allowing campaign cash to affect his duties. Mr. Corbett cannot have it both ways. He cannot continue to scoop up large campaign contributions from people he has an obligation to investigate. Mr. Corbett's non-recognition of the cloud that now hangs over the OAG is incomprehensible. If Mr. DeNaples is truly connected to organized crime figures as alleged, should the Attorney General also be so connected by a $55,000 campaign contribution? Again, I am not questioning Mr. Corbett's integrity. But I do again question his judgement in failing to recognize that he should give back all the money he received from Mr. DeNaples.

Lastly, Mr. Corbett may argue that Mr. DeNaples gave money to many officials of both political parties and that all contributions were, at the time, legal. Such an argument fails to appreciate the unique nature of the Office of Attorney General. Unlike other recipients of campaign funds from Mr. DeNaples, the Attorney General is the state's chief law enforcement officer. Also unlike the other recipients, the AG is uniquely and specifically charged with gaming oversight. Clearly, Mr. Corbett, as the chief law enforcement officer of Pennsylvania, must immediately give back all money received from Mr. DeNaples. He must disconnect the OAG from any relationship with a person who now stands indicted as associated with organized crime. And, Mr. Corbett must answer why he has declined to date to investigate the circumstances surrounding the issuing of the gaming license to Mr. DeNaples and the apparent conflicting testimony that has surfaced regarding same.

Contact: John Morganelli 610-248-7701

Labels: , ,

 |  3 comments  |  |  RSS Feed | Add to Technorati Favorites

This Week's Rants | The Daily Rant Archives

Creative Commons License
The Daily Rant by Dave Ralis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.