Judge sets June 6 trial date for Munchak, Cordaro

The judge in the public corruption trial of Lackawanna County Commissioner A.J. Munchak and former Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro on Monday ordered the trial to begin June 6 at the federal courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

The trial will begin immediately after the jury is selected, Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo said.

Mr. Munchak’s lawyer, Chris Powell, said he expects the trial to last three weeks.

The trial date was scheduled three days after Judge Caputo denied a pile of pretrial motions filed by the defense seeking, among other things, the dismissal of racketeering charges by Mr. Cordaro, a request for separate trials and another to move the trial out of the area. Judge Caputo also denied a defense argument that the entire indictment should be dismissed on the grounds prosecutors or federal agents allegedly leaked secret grand jury information to reporters. The defense cited several stories published by The Times-Tribune. Prosecutors said the claims were completely unfounded.

The 39-count indictment against Mr. Munchak and Mr. Cordaro revolves around cash payments allegedly made by eight companies to the two former majority commissioners to influence their decisions while running the county from 2004 until 2008.

The indictment charges them with racketeering, conspiracy, bribery, extortion, mail fraud, tax offenses and other crimes.

None of the companies has been identified by prosecutors in court documents, which refer to them by number.

The Times-Tribune identified the former Moscow-based civil engineering firm Acker Associates as one and Clarks Summit-based architectural design company Highland Associates as another.

Mr. Cordaro, who is accused of pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Mr. Munchak, who prosecutors claim took about $60,000, have pleaded not guilty. Mr. Munchak remained in office after his indictment, but later announced he will not seek re-election to a third term this year. Mr. Cordaro, a lawyer, has continued his law practice while awaiting trial.

Mr. Powell noted the historical significance of June 6.

“We are going to trial on D-Day, and I’m ready. We look forward to giving our side of the case,” he said, referring the Allied invasion of occupied Europe in 1944.

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/judge-sets-june-6-trial-date-for-munchak-cordaro-1.1121680#ixzz1QbJ99YKB

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