GOP Prosecutors Probe the Dems

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG

Two Republican prosecutors control the fate of some state elected officials as their investigations move into 2008.

We already know that Attorney General Tom Corbett has the power to shake the Legislature to its very core with his ongoing probe of state bonuses for campaign work.

So far, a former Democrat lawmaker, Frank LaGrotta of Ellwood City, has been charged with felony conflict of interest for putting two relatives into alleged no-show jobs.

A GOP staffer here told me there is no question Corbett clearly has the potential to write the script for 2008.

The other lesser-known GOP prosecutor who could shake things up at the Capitol is Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico. His casino-related probe could in the very least embarrass some top pols and give the Gaming Control Board a black eye.

Marsico's office last week charged a Scranton priest, the Rev. Joseph Sica, with perjury for allegedly lying about the extent of his relationship with the late organized crime boss Russell Bufalino of Kingston.

Sica is an adviser to Louis DeNaples, also of Scranton, who built the $412 million Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos. His casino -- with 2,523 slot machines -- opened in October. DeNaples, who pleaded no contest to fraud in 1978, has long been mentioned as someone with alleged ties to organized crime -- which he strongly and repeatedly denies through spokesman Kevin Feeley.

Why was a priest indicted? What's that have to do with casinos?

Not all of it is clear. But the Dauphin County DA is investigating whether DeNaples misled state gaming regulators about his alleged mob ties. DeNaples' lawyers tried unsuccessfully to quash the probe at the Supreme Court.

The grand jury presentment stated that Sica's "relationship to known criminals was material to whether DeNaples had a relationship with the same criminals. …