FBI 'may' have asked about paying mayor to keep towing contract, ex-trooper says

Last updated: May 14. 2014 11:37PM - 6031 Views
By - rdupuis@civitasmedia.com



Glodzik
Glodzik
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WILKES-BARRE — Leo A. Glodzik III had a message for jurors Wednesday afternoon: He is not a thief, and state trooper Daniel Mimnaugh falsely accused him of being one.
 
“Mr. Mimnaugh is a liar,” said the towing company owner, who is on trial in Luzerne County Court to face allegations he took $2,100 from a vehicle he towed on Jan. 29, 2013, following what he was told had been a drug arrest, and put the money in his pocket.
 
Prosecutors say Glodzik, 43, then tried to share $1,100 of that money with Mimnaugh under what he believed was an arrangement they had agreed to days before.
 
The trial before county Judge Lesa S. Gelb began Tuesday and is scheduled to continue today.
 
Defense: Trooper lied
 
By Mimnaugh's own testimony, that white Cadillac wasn't a drug dealer's car but a state-owned vehicle stashed with cash that had been placed there by law enforcement as part of their investigation into Glodzik's business practices.
 
Mimnaugh, who did work with an FBI drug task force, admitted Tuesday to playing a “dirty police officer” under a plan to convince Glodzik to act as exclusive tower for a task force Mimnaugh was running.
 
It was such revelations that put Glodzik and his attorney, Joseph Sklarosky Sr., on the offensive Wednesday, painting Mimnaugh as an angry cop with a personal grudge who frequently lied to Glodzik while working with an FBI agent to entrap the Wilkes-Barre businessman.
 
Mimnaugh testified his involvement with the case began when he visited Glodzik's LAG Towing garage on Carey Avenue in Wilkes-Barre to complain about charges after his father-in-law's car was towed to LAG following a December 2012 crash, but he rejected Sklarosky's accusation that he was taking the case personally.
 
The retired trooper testified federal prosecutors already were investigating LAG Towing for a “myriad of things” when he informed them and the FBI about his concerns with his father-in-law's bill from LAG.
 
Sklarosky repeatedly questioned Mimnaugh's credibility. He pointed to statements such as Mimnaugh dismissing Glodzik's question about a man waiting in Mimnaugh's vehicle during one encounter by telling the tower “Don't worry about him, he works for me.”
 
In fact, as Mimnaugh admitted, the man was FBI agent Joseph Noone.
 
“You lied to him a lot during this investigation, would you agree with that?” Sklarosky asked.
 
“I wouldn't call it lies. This was part of the story we had concocted,” Mimnaugh said.
 
Ties to city probe?
 
That “concocted” story was the chief target of Sklarosky's defense. He has argued the FBI was only seeking incriminating evidence against Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton, Police Chief Gerald Dessoye and other city officials, and had no real interest in Glodzik.
 
As Sklarosky frequently reiterated, Mimnaugh and Noone confronted Glodzik with accusations of stealing at his garage on Jan. 29, 2013, yet Glodzik wasn't arrested until four months later.
 
Before that happened, Noone and the FBI had numerous meetings and conversations with Glodzik, Sklarosky said, including at his own law office.
 
“As soon as he said, 'No, I don't have the information you want,' bang! He gets arrested,” Sklarosky said.
 
Sklarosky asked Mimnaugh if he ever told Glodzik that he “was in a lot of trouble” and should “come clean” with information about Leighton and others.
 
“I don't recall making that statement at all, actually,” Mimnaugh said.
 
Sklarosky asked Mimnaugh if he ever heard FBI agent Noone accuse Glodzik of paying Leighton in order to protect his exclusive towing contract.
 
“He may have asked that in the form of a question,” Mimnaugh replied. “Not in a statement like you're putting it. He may have asked him if he was doing that.”
 
Leighton suspended the contract the same day Glodzik was charged in May 2013.
 
On Tuesday, Mimnaugh testified he met Glodzik at LAG on Jan. 29, 2013, after the tower returned with the white Cadillac. Inside, he said, Glodzik removed the cash from the car's ashtray and offered him $1,100 of it, wrapped in a paper towel.
 
Mimnaugh testified he then called in Noone. Glodzik was checked for weapons and advised he was not under arrest, Mimnaugh said, and Glodzik agreed to talk.
 
“During that interview, Mr. Glodzik admitted he took $2,100,” Mimnaugh said. “He was well aware it was theft, he admitted. He acknowledged what he did.”
 
Under questioning from Sklarosky on Wednesday, Mimnaugh testified Glodzik's encounter with the two lawmen was not recorded, and Glodzik did not sign any confession.
 
“It's your word against my client's, then?”
 
“That's correct,” Mimnaugh replied.
 
“And that's the way you wanted it to work,” Sklarosky countered.
 
“That's not correct,” Mimnaugh replied.
 
Under questioning by Sanguedolce, Mimnaugh said Glodzik was not immediately arrested because “it was not a violent crime.”
 
“If there's not a rush, we approach people, speak with them if they want to cooperate,” he said.
 
Leo on the stand
 
Despite his anger over the original towing bill, Mimnaugh said he took Glodzik's business card in December 2012, and contacted him again the next month about towing for the task force.
 
Mimnaugh testified about his surprise when Glodzik asked many questions about how seized drugs and cash were handled by investigators, and quickly suggested splitting up seized drug money retrieved from dealers' cars.
 
“I know, but we just met,” Mimnaugh recalled saying.
 
But despite his feigned reticence, Mimnaugh's testimony was that he did play along with the idea, sending the cash-filled car Glodzik's way just days later, informing him of money left in the ashtray.
 
On the stand, Glodzik said he is responsible for items left in cars he tows, and that's why he wanted to know about the contents of drug dealers' seized vehicles.
 
“I asked him these questions for my log,” Glodzik said.
 
He also testified that he dispatched an employee to pick up the white Cadillac from a parking lot near the Wyoming Valley Mall on the evening of Jan. 29, not feeling like going out because he had drunk a few Amstel Light beers and taken a Xanax pill.
 
However, Glodzik said Mimnaugh repeatedly called him.
 
“He said, 'You have to come down. I want you here,' ” Glodzik said.
 
Glodzik also testified that he was wearing sweatpants without pockets the night of Jan. 29, and couldn't have placed the cash in his pockets.
 
Sklarosky held up the pants in court. Mimnaugh said he couldn't specifically describe the clothes Glodzik had been wearing, but insisted Glodzik was wearing pants with front pockets.
 
Glodzik also maintained that there was not $2,100 in the car but $2,000, and that he handed Mimnaugh $1,100 “because he told me to.”
 
“I assumed it was for buy money,” Glodzik explained, referencing cash police use to make drug purchases for investigations.
 
“After I gave him the money, the $900 was still in my hand,” Glodzik said.
 
Glodzik also dismissed prosecution suggestions that recordings in which he is heard speaking about “11 o'clock” (it was closer to 7:15 p.m.) were references to the Super Bowl, as part of a football discussion he had been having with Mimnaugh.
 
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