WILKES-BARRE —An inmate who investigators said had planned to hire a hit man to kill a witness in the double-homicide trial of Hugo Selenski was sentenced Friday to 15 to 30 years in prison.
Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough sentenced Michael Joseph Scerbo, 41, on a charge of criminal solicitation to commit criminal homicide. Scerbo pleaded guilty to the charge in January 2013.
Scerbo was given credit for 750 days time served.
State police at Wyoming and Luzerne County detectives arrested Scerbo on April 27, 2012, within seconds of when he was released from the State Correctional Institution at Retreat, Newport Township, where he served an unrelated sentence on a forgery conviction in Pike County.
Investigators alleged Scerbo offered money to a “hit man” he met in the prison’s visitation room on March 29, 2012, to kill Paul Weakley, 44, a key prosecution witness against Selenski. The hit man was an undercover trooper, state police said.
Scerbo was jailed with Weakley at the Pike County Correctional Facility in 2008 and was housed in a cell next to Selenski’s in the restrictive housing uni at SCI-Retreat during 2011. Investigators said in arrest records that Scerbo and Selenski, 40, were able to talk to one another while in adjacent cells.
Investigators said in arrest records that Scerbo met with the “hit man” and offered $1,000 to kill Weakley. Scerbo told the person that Weakley was a “rat” and should be murdered two months before the start of Selenski’s trial which, at the time, was scheduled to begin in September 2012.
Selenski’s trial on the flex-tie strangulation killings of Tammy Fassett and Michael Kerkowski in 2002 has often been delayed due to appeals.
The latest delay involved the appointment of new attorneys to defend Selenski after his previous court-appointed lawyer Shelley Centini was removed due to allegations that she, Selenski and private investigator James Sulima conspired to intimidate five witnesses in the homicide case.
Weakley was sentenced in 2008 to life in prison for pleading guilty to a federal RICO charge that incorporated the killings of Fassett and Kerkowski. While he has been imprisoned, he claimed in a federal civil lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Prisons that he has been assaulted and stabbed for “being an informant and a snitch.”