If things go as planned this morning, former state Sen. Bob Mellow will step from a vehicle parked near the federal courthouse in Scranton and scurry like a small scared animal into a courtroom to meet his fate.
The 70-year-old political don and admitted felon will stand before the judge and get sentenced for two crimes to which he pleaded guilty in a deal that spared him the trial of a trial and the possibility of big time in prison.
Maybe Mellow, whose lawyers claim is ill from an undisclosed ailment, will apologize for becoming one of the most power corrupt political criminals in Pennsylvania. If so, expect his grieving family and few remaining friends dumb enough to show up in public to get the first and biggest dose of sorry for the pain and suffering of letting them down in a time of need.
This gang is always in need, by the way.
Meeting those needs is how Mellow stayed on top of the refuse heap for so long, polished among the stink and garbage that passes for public service in Northeastern Pennsylvania, as he met the unending needs of people with their hands out.
But for Mellow to meet your needs you first had to meet his. And Mellow benefitted a hundred times more than anybody else because Mellow was King.
Maybe this dazzling grifter will even apologize for ravaging the public trust and gutting our naïve belief in the system like it's a toxic carp pulled from the Susquehanna. Even if Mellow weeps ands utters his “mea culpas” in the old Latin of the ancient church whose leaders winked at Mellow each time he genuflected before the altar of power, Mellow’s biggest apology will likely be reserved for himself.
For the rest of his life he will rue the day he got caught. Mellow will be forever sorry that he got busted. And for that he will likely blame others. No matter what this cur of a soon-to-be convict does, he will never take responsibility for his life of crime. No matter what his slick lawyers say about how remorseful he is, Mellow has not yet uttered a single word of public sorrow. He remains in his mind better than those he ripped off and victimized. The one-time Democratic demigod remains arrogant and aloof, confident that he knows more than anybody else, that his power will remain part of his legacy, even in prison.
If he goes to prison, that is. I expect a year. Prosecutors have asked for two. Federal sentencing guidelines allow the judge to decide between 18 and 24 months. House arrest and probation is not out of the question.
The judge has discretion and in hard coal country that’s as explosive as a sizzling dynamite fuse on a charge in a bootleg hole. At least the judge is from out of town. But that rarely stopped Mellow and his army of cruel arm-twisters in the past from getting what they wanted.
Granted they’re operating at more of a disadvantage than ever before.
But they’re still dangerous. We don’t even know the names of the Senate staffers who enabled and helped Mellow carry out his crimes. To the federal government’s discredit, prosecutors shield their identities perhaps because they helped bring down the boss, perhaps because the feds can use them again. Wiring them up and turning them loose on the Hill and elsewhere makes perfect sense to me. I’d even consider paying them as professional informers.
Still that doesn’t make it right. Yes, informants are often required and necessary to make and break a case. But when they’re still on the public payroll, pulling down taxpayer supported paychecks and wielding their own power as they strive to grow using the same tactics and technique that maniac Mellow taught them, we are still very much at risk.
State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich immediately comes to mind.
The former local television broadcaster and church worker stayed as close to Mellow’s, uh, elbow as anyone. The consummate brown-nose Mellow gofer, Kavulich worked in Mellow’s Harrisburg office as well as in the local Peckville office.
Not known for leadership or intellect – or even using his real last name until he ran for public office himself – Kavulich rode the Mellow bandwagon for all it was worth - in his case, a seat in the state House of Representatives.
Yet, even after his recent re-election, Kavulich refuses to speak with me about his role in the Mellow investigation. Speaking to a WILK colleague, he said all questions about the investigation must go through federal authorities. Of course, that is an outright lie.
As expected, Kavulich failed to return my call the other day to say whether he wrote a letter to the judge trying to influence his former boss’ sentence. Mellow’s lawyers claim more than 200 people did just that, a stunning testimony to fear, cult mentality and bad judgment.
Feds have not said whether Mellow is cooperating in other investigations. Maybe he’s a degenerate rat. Maybe he’s just a degenerate. Either way, Mellow’s reign of terror has ended. In the shadows, however, lurks the next generation of blood-sucking pillars of the community, younger aspiring political mobsters who are ready, willing and able to lead us smiling and stupid into the pits of democratic despair.