WILKES-BARRE – An inmate accused of planning to hire a hit man to kill a witness in the double homicide trial of Hugo Selenski pleaded guilty Monday in Luzerne County Court.
Michael Joseph Scerbo, 40, is scheduled to be sentenced March 26 on a charge of solicitation to commit criminal homicide.
First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said Scerbo is facing up to 30 years in prison.
Scerbo was arrested immediately after he was released from the State Correctional Institution at Retreat, Newport Township, by state police at Wyoming and county detectives on April 27. He was jailed at SCI-Retreat, serving a 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, 43, 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 cell in the restrictive housing unit at SCI-Retreat during 2011. Investigators said in arrest records that Scerbo and Selenski, 39, were able to talk to one another while in adjacent cells.
Scerbo made contact with another inmate who has ties to a known criminal gang based in Philadelphia, with many gang associates incarcerated at numerous federal prisons in the country, arrest records say.
Scerbo asked the inmate, who is not named in the criminal complaint, to arrange a visit with a gang associate to plot the murder of Weakley, who is jailed at a federal prison in Arizona serving a life sentence.
Investigators alleged in the complaint Scerbo met with the hit man and offered $1,000 to kill Weakley death. Scerbo told the hit man that Weakley was a rat and should be murdered two months before the start of Selenski's trial, which was scheduled to begin in Luzerne County Court last September.
Selenski's trial on the killings of Tammy Fassett and Michael Kerkowski in 2002 has often been delayed due to appeals. Selenski's attorneys, Shelley Centini and Edward Rymsza, recently filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court.