On a wintry day in Northeastern Pennsylvania, former state Sen. Raphael J. Musto booked himself into a facility down south, but not for a vacation.
An official with the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed Monday the octogenarian ex-legislator turned himself in at the Federal Medical Center at Butner in Granville County, N.C., on Monday afternoon as directed by a judge.
That move comes in the wake of frantic attempts by Musto’s attorneys last week to appeal a federal judge’s decision committing Musto to FMC Butner because he was unable to stand trial on corruption charges.
Musto has for more than three years been fighting a legal battle against charges he abused his position as a senator by accepting $35,000 and other gifts from a developer, identified by Musto’s attorneys as Robert Mericle.
A federal grand jury on Nov. 23, 2010, indicted Musto, of Pittston Township, on allegations he accepted the cash, gifts and services as part of a scheme designed to secure his continued support of various construction projects, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
He pleaded not guilty Nov. 15 of that year, and launched a legal battle that repeatedly delayed trial.
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. New charges were added in October 2012 and February of last year.
Late last year, Musto sought an indefinite continuance of the trial, contending health issues and mental deterioration made him unable to withstand a trial or participate in his own defense. His attorneys cited an aortic aneurysm and non-alcoholic cirrhosis.
On Jan. 7 U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo ruled Musto was physically able to go to trial but mentally incompetent. Caputo ordered Musto be put in custody of the attorney general, and subsequently admitted to FMC Butner.
Now, the octogenarian follows the path trod earlier this year by another area corruption suspect: accused Ponzi-scheme perpetrator and former Wilkes-Barre Area School District solicitor Anthony J. Lupas Jr., who reported to FMC Butner last month for treatment and evaluation under another federal judge’s orders.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani in November ruled that Lupas, suffering from an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease, did not have the mental ability to stand trial.