WILKES-BARRE — A former educator from Lackawanna County was forced to listen to the cries of his teen daughter, saying how she feels ashamed to call him father.
Mark Kandel, 53, of Peckville, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo to 14.6 years in prison to using a cellphone to solicit sex from a boy.
Kandel previously worked as a curriculum specialist with the Northeast Education Intermediate Unit 19 in Archbald, and had served on the Scranton School Board in the 1990s.
Federal prosecutors said Kandel in October 2012 exchanged more than 900 text messages with a then-17-year-old boy seeking to have the boy send nude and explicit pictures in exchange for money and gifts.
The boy, now a student at a college in Lackawanna County, said he had to withdraw from attending school at Valley View High School due to stress and ridicule from other students. He told Caputo he attempted suicide and self mutilated while reading the text messages from Kandel.
Kandel did not move when his youngest daughter, currently a student at Valley View, said she was ashamed to call him a father. She told Caputo that for the first 15 years of her life she held her father on a “pedestal,” saying they had an “unbreakable bond.”
She said her family forgave their father when he was charged and later sentenced to 90 days home confinement in 2008 for supplying alcohol to minors during a party at their home.
“We supported him and forgave him,” she said, noting her father changed by ignoring her and her older sister and spending all the time using his cellphone.
“This man I am ashamed to call my father went after boys in school,” she said in the courtroom of the federal courthouse in Wilkes-Barre. “This will continue to haunt my sister and I for the rest of our lives.”
Kandel is the estranged husband of WNEP-TV anchor Marisa Burke, who has since filed for divorce, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by his attorney, Frank Santomauro.
Santomauro said his client is “very remorseful” and has already sustained a life-altering punishment by destroying his family.
“The life he has known is gone,” Santomauro said. “How much more punishment can a man take by not able to speak to his daughters?”
Kandel was indicted by a federal grand jury in December on four counts. He pleaded guilty in June to a single count of online enticement of a minor while the three other counts were withdrawn under a negotiated plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Scranton.
The negotiated plea deal called for a sentence anywhere from 13 years to 19 years in prison. Santomauro sought the lesser sentence while U.S. Assistant Attorney Michele Olshefski asked for the maximum.
‘Lost his way’
“My brother is not a monster; he is a good person,” said Kandel’s older brother, Kirk Kandel. “He’s one of God’s flock that lost his way, and needs direction to get on the right path.”
Caputo imposed the 14.6 years in federal prison for Kandel, noting he hopes “the demons” he has will be addressed.