At about 9:20 on the last day of testimony in his public corruption trial, former Republican majority Lackawanna County Commissioner Bob Cordaro stood by the defense table and faced an almost full courtroom.
With ten minutes to go before court started, neither the jury nor the judge had yet entered the room. Anticipation of closing arguments wired the crowd. An audible buzz crackled in the air.
But, like a seasoned middleweight pug, Cordaro seemed relaxed.
Man, was he ever relaxed.
I don’t know where he got it but before I could say “can lead defense lawyer Bill Costopoulos make a monkey out of the prosecution” Cordaro was peeling a ripe, yellow banana and shoving the first of several big bites into his mouth.
In all my years covering criminal trials, I’ve never seen anybody eat a banana in the courtroom.
Scranton Supervisory Special Agent FBI agent Kevin Wevodau swigged from a 16 oz. plastic bottle of Coke two days in a row like he was making a Super Bowl commercial but this one took the cake – or the banana cream pie, if you will.
Cordaro was sending a message.
“Don’t mean nothing.”
But of course, the moment meant everything.
Like a cocky fighter who gets tagged but doesn’t want to admit what everybody else can see as clear as the shiner on your face, Cordaro played the nonchalant role to the bust.
But he would soon get busted.
Cordaro and co-defendant A.J. Munchak would get pummeled – convicted on enough federal felonies to put them in prison for the rest of their lives.
At least A.J. copped to his anxiety.
“I’m only on trial for the rest of my life so I’m in a bad mood,” he told a guy who sat in a front row seat that A.J. told him was reserved for family.
The guy refused to budge.
“Don’t get mad at me,” A.J. suddenly whined. “Don’t get mad at me.”
A little pre-prison advice: Toughen up before you go inside, A.J., or the other white collar criminals will line up to take your candy and potato chips as soon as you get back to the cell block from the commissary.
But Bobby didn’t want them see him sweat.
After the verdict, A.J. pleaded his innocence before the television cameras.
Cordaro at least admitted that he didn’t know what happened.
And now, after a nice summer vacation, they’ll appear for sentencing in September.
That’s what the people say.
And we the people now move on to the next case and the next indictment and the next and the next and the next after that.
I hope former veteran state Sen. Ray Musto’s public corruption trial comes off as scheduled although he must have had heart palpitations after what just happened to the boys in the county up the line.
The same goes for former veteran political powerbroker and state Sen. Bob Mellow, who is the target of a federal grand jury looking into allegations of political corruption in his office.
And I just got my hands on a four-page memo detailing a whole new political racket based in Lackawanna County that implicates a whole new gang currently at work upholding the people’s business in the courthouse.
Since the Corbett Detective, Bail Bonds and Bodyguard Agency has not yet been incorporated, I’ll likely pass this info along to the FBI – as long as Wevodau promises to maintain J. Edgar Hoover-like decorum in the courtroom in the future and leave his Coke in the office.
Like I keep telling you, we’re all in this together. So if I ask you to spy for the FBI then I guess I can tip them to information I believe is credible and needs to be investigated with all the power of the federal government.
I’m not an arm of the prosecution or the defense.
I am an arm of the people and will pull my weight in this ongoing public corruption probe that hopefully will go as long as political corruption betrays the public trust.