Gergely makes first court appearance, released on recognizance
March 2, 2016 8:46 PM
State Rep. Marc Gergely arrives for his arraignment in the West Deer offices of District Judge Tom Swan.
By Andrew Goldstein / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
State Rep. Marc J. Gergely, accused of wielding his political influence to support an illegal video gambling operation in McKeesport, was arraigned on criminal charges Wednesday and is due back in court for a preliminary hearing at the end of the month.
The 46-year-old Democrat from White Oak pulled up to District Judge Tom Swan’s offices in West Deer about 9:20 a.m. in his state-issued black Jeep Commander and ignored reporters as he walked inside. His attorney, Charles J. Porter Jr., also declined comment.
Following a grand jury investigation, the state Attorney General’s office has charged Mr. Gergely with six crimes, including three felony counts of corrupt organizations and dealing in the proceeds of illegal activity, and three misdemeanor counts involving conspiracy, gambling and an election law violation.
Rep. Gergely arraigned on corruption charges
State Rep. Marc Gergely was arraigned this morning on criminal charges stemming from a grand jury investigation into illegal gambling devices. (Video by Darrell Sapp)
Mr. Gergely remained standing and kept his hands in his pockets for much of his brief arraignment before District Judge Swan and was released on his own recognizance pending a preliminary hearing March 30. That hearing also will take place before the district judge. The lawmaker and his lawyer again made no comment as they left.
The charges were the result of a joint investigation conducted by the state attorney general’s office and the Pennsylvania State Police.
The affidavit supporting the charges states that Mr. Gergely used his political influence to help Ronald “Porky” Melocchi, a friend of the legislator’s father, get video poker machines into various bars and other establishments.
“This is an instance where the allegations show what I would consider the insidious nature of organized crime,” Mark Serge, senior deputy attorney general, said outside the district judge’s office after the hearing. “You have relationships and money that tends to infiltrate the political system, and individuals get caught up in that. And I think these allegations and the charges show that.”
Melocchi pleaded guilty last year to a felony charge of corrupt organizations and misdemeanor counts of gambling devices and engaging in pool selling/bookmaking and was sentenced to a decade of probation.
No one besides Mr. Gergely has been charged as a result of the most recent grand jury probe, but the investigation continues.
“This is an ongoing criminal investigation,” Mr. Serge said. “We do anticipate more charges in this matter.”
Mr. Serge said additional charges, if any are filed, would involve people other than Mr. Gergely and be related to the Melocchi video gambling operation.
On Tuesday, Mr. Gergely resigned his position as ranking Democrat on the House Labor and Industry Committee.
Government watchdogs Tuesday called on Mr. Gergely to step down and suspend his campaign for re-election.
Andrew Goldstein: email@example.com or 412-263-1352.