Federal prosecutors argue no evidence of grand jury leaks to media in case against Cordaro, Munchak

Federal prosecutors filed paperwork Monday arguing that there is no evidence of grand jury leaks to newspapers in the case against former Lackawanna County Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro.

The 33-page filing responds to several motions made by lawyers representing Mr. Cordaro and his co-defendant, county Commissioner A.J. Munchak, including one that requested the trial be moved somewhere other than Scranton and another that asked for more information about cooperating witnesses and evidence prosecutors have in the case.

Mr. Cordaro and Mr. Munchak are facing a 39-count indictment charging them with racketeering, conspiracy, bribery, extortion, mail fraud, tax offenses and other offenses.

Late last month, Mr. Cordaro’s attorney requested a dismissal of the charges, claiming the government “repeatedly and intentionally” violated the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings. Court paperwork filed by defense attorneys cited several articles published by The Times-Tribune.

In response, assistant U.S. attorneys said the allegations of leaks are completely unfounded.

“The source of the information contained in each article is clearly disclosed and at no point is the source identified as a federal agent or similar individual,” Monday’s filing by the U.S. attorney’s office states. “Incredibly, Defendant Munchak is named as a source in more than one article.”

Prosecutors also said it was premature for U.S. District Judge Richard A. Caputo to rule on whether to try the case outside Scranton.

Defense attorneys have argued that pretrial publicity will make it impossible to find a fair and impartial jury. Prosecutors suggested intensive screening of prospective jurors is needed before the judge can decide whether the case can be tried here.

Finally, prosecutors argued that they have already provided defense with more information about their case than is required under court rules and would continue to provide required information on or before deadlines.

Mr. Munchak’s attorney, Chris Powell, said the prosecutors’ response to defense motions was not surprising, though he is frustrated that the government continues to refuse to identify companies that prosecutors say were involved in giving alleged kickbacks to Mr. Cordaro and Mr. Munchak.

“They are delaying the truth of who those companies are,” Mr. Powell said, adding that he plans to use the information to compare contracts made by previous and current county administrations to see if there are any differences.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorna Graham has said information about the companies has been shared with the defense, though the names have not been publicly released. The Times-Tribune has identified civil engineering firm Acker Associates and architectural design firm Highland Associates as two of the companies that allegedly paid the commissioners bribes and kickbacks.

If convicted on all charges, Mr. Cordaro faces up to 459 years in prison while Mr. Munchak faces up to 343 years.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/federal-prosecutors-argue-no-evidence-of-grand-jury-leaks-to-media-in-case-against-cordaro-munchak-1.1064075#ixzz1C5TvIloL

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