Prosecutors urge 2 years in prison for former Pennsylvania senator
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SCRANTON, Pa. -- Federal prosecutors said Monday former state Senate Democratic leader Bob Mellow should be sentenced to two years in prison for public corruption, while his lawyers argued for probation only.
A prosecution sentencing memorandum said Mr. Mellow's actions, which they outlined in detail, compared to those of other state legislative leaders who received multiyear sentences for similar crimes.
He is due to be sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
"When a powerful and influential lawmaker breaks the law and abuses the public trust, the best way to promote respect for the law is to significantly punish the lawmaker by imposing a substantial prison sentence," federal prosecutors wrote. Mr. Mellow's defense lawyers argued that his background and status as a first-time offender would justify a sentence of probation.
"Mr. Mellow is extremely remorseful and does not need incarceration to be deterred from future criminal conduct," his lawyers wrote. "Moreover, the irreparable harm to Mr. Mellow's reputation and good name and the loss of his substantial state pension already constitute substantial punishment."
Mr. Mellow, 69, retired in 2010 after a four-decade Senate career.
Prosecutors said his staff worked on state time on a range of political campaign activities in 2006.
They called him "a lawmaker who broke the law; an elected leader with power and influence who abused that power and influence; a legislative leader who placed his own political ambitions above the public's trust."
They argued that a 24-month term would be in line with sentences imposed on other former lawmakers who have been convicted of misusing their office, including Vince Fumo, John Perzel, Bill DeWeese, Mike Veon and Jane Orie.
"Like all of these other state legislators, Mellow abused the public trust by misusing legislative staff and resources for political campaign and fundraising work," prosecutors wrote. They also are seeking $80,000 in restitution.
Mr. Mellow's defense attorney, Sal Cognetti, declined comment beyond what was in the defense sentencing memorandum.
First Published November 27, 2012 12:00 am