Former lawmaker’s condition has ‘steadily worsened’

Last updated: December 23. 2013 11:37PM - 2881 Views
By - smocarsky@timesleader.com

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• State Sen. Raphael J. Musto was indicted in November 2011 on charges that he accepted $25,000 from a construction contractor who developed various properties in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. Musto allegedly accepted the cash and other items of value from the contractor as part of a scheme designed to secure Musto’s continued support of various construction projects, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Musto’s attorneys identified the contractor as Robert Mericle. Mericle pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges unrelated to Musto’s case but has yet to be sentenced, as he is expected to testify against Musto.

The indictment also alleges Musto accepted thousands of dollars in cash from another unnamed individual affiliated with Northeast Pennsylvania municipal authorities. Musto allegedly accepted those cash payments as a reward for having helped the municipal authorities obtain loans and grants.

• In October 2012, the original indictment was superseded by a grand jury to include two new charges of public corruption: that in 2006, Musto allegedly accepted $1,000 and other benefits from an individual affiliated with a municipality in return for his help with passing through a loan application for the municipality. Musto allegedly did the same for that individual again in 2008 with another loan application.

Musto’s attorneys successfully had one of those additional counts dismissed in November 2012 because it exceeded a five-year statute of limitations.

• A second superseding indictment returned in November amends the dismissed count from “corrupt receipt of bribe/reward for official action concerning programs receiving federal funds” to “honest services wire fraud.” It also names the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, commonly known as PennVest, as the agency on which Musto allegedly exerted his influence on to approve a multimillion-dollar loan application. It also notes Musto was a member of the authority board.


Read attorney John Riley’s affidavit at timesleader.com.

WILKES-BARRE — An attorney representing former state Sen. Raphael J. Musto on federal corruption charges filed an affidavit Monday detailing his observations of Musto’s daily physical condition and behavior from Oct. 29 through Dec. 15 as they prepare for a competency hearing scheduled for Jan. 6.

Philadelphia attorney John E. Riley has been representing Musto since April 2010, seven months before after an indictment was returned against him for allegedly accepting bribes from a local contractor. Riley first summarized Musto’s deteriorating health since April 2010 in the affidavit in support of indefinitely postponing Musto’s trial.

Riley said Musto was diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver in June 2011, became ill with flu-like symptoms in winter 2011 and began to lose weight and experience “dramatic periods of fatigue.”

He said Musto’s physical condition “steadily worsened” through a series of trial postponements and “continued to decline significantly” since October 2012.

In addition to more periods of extreme fatigue, Riley said Musto began to show “more substantial cognitive impairments, reflected by slurred speech, difficulty reading and retaining information, periods of confusion and lapses of concentration” and said it was increasingly “unavailable for me to assist in any trial preparation.”

Riley said he kept in closer contact with Musto since Oct. 29 and spoke with Musto about four days per week, usually Monday through Thursday, and asked him about his weekends on Mondays.

Many nights, Musto reported he couldn’t sleep because of a painful itching sensation, and had many days of fatigue. Mixed in were some “recovery days” without extreme fatigue, but Musto was still very tired, Riley wrote. He could not enjoy football games because he found it difficult to follow a game through an entire quarter. He could no longer attend daily Mass by early November. He became dizzy at a Sunday Mass and had to leave early.

Riley said a steroid injection on Nov. 21 helped tremendously for two days, but fatigue returned by Nov. 24. On Nov. 26, Musto told Riley he missed being able to read books because he couldn’t remember things from two paragraphs before.

Riley said he learned from Musto on Dec. 5 that a Citizens Voice reporter visited him on the previous day shortly after Riley left Musto’s house. Riley said Musto had “a 15-minute session with a reporter … resulting in a videotape and audio of Musto which he was unaware was being recorded.”

Riley said that Musto repeatedly fixated on the unfairness of a photo accompanying a story in the Dec. 4 paper and, “in contradiction to the fact the session was being recorded, did not agree to have a photo taken of him when requested at the end of the session.”

On Dec. 7, Musto reported “stroke-like symptoms,” including stiffening of the arms, a period of being totally incoherent and the inability to grasp a fork. Eight of the next nine days were all bad ones for Musto, Riley said, adding that Musto had only three or fewer good days between Oct. 29 and Dec. 15.

Riley said there was no way he could plan ahead to meet with Musto given the lack of any predictable pattern and the overwhelming majority of bad days.

“The opportunity to meet with him and even attempt to prepare for trial was virtually non-existent,” he said.

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