Former state Senate leader Mellow gets 16 months in prison for conspiracy
By Brad Bumsted
Published: Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 5:50 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Former Senate Democratic leader Bob Mellow cried and pleaded for a shorter sentence, but a federal judge on Friday gave him 16 months in prison for using state tax dollars for campaigns.
U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky ordered Mellow to pay nearly $80,000 in restitution to the state Senate and a $40,000 fine to the federal government.
Mellow paid $31,000 in restitution for filing a false tax return. He pleaded guilty in May to a federal conspiracy charge.
“I'm embarrassed, and I'm ashamed,” Mellow said. “I'm very, very sorry.”
Mellow, 69, became the eighth Pennsylvania legislative leader to go to prison since 2009 for abusing public resources to get himself and others re-elected.
He was an icon in Northeastern Pennsylvania politics, said Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.
“Today is a very sad day for the Senate and for Pennsylvania,” said Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, who succeeded Mellow.
Mellow will report to the federal Bureau of Prisons on Jan. 15.
Leaders initiated changes to ensure all senators and staff clearly understand Senate rules and prohibitions regarding political activity, Costa said. The Senate adopted Ethical Conduct Rules for two sessions that “clearly distinguish political activity and provide guidelines for senators and staff to follow,” he said.
The point is to ensure a “bright line” separates political activity from caucus legislative actions involving senators and staff, Costa said.
Superior Court established that line in its 2007 decision upholding the conviction of former Rep. Jeffrey Habay, a Shaler Republican, for forcing employees to do campaign work, said Gov. Tom Corbett, the former attorney general.
Court documents said Mellow's political activity on taxpayers' dime continued after the Habay ruling.
Brad Bumsted is state Capitol reporterfor Trib Total Media. He can be reachedat 717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Taillon among 6 Pirates send to minor league camp
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Starkey: Steelers know when to say goodbye
- Pitt looking to enhance profile at ACC tourney
- Democratic governor candidate Wagner remains confident amid skepticism
- Penn State’s Franklin cherishes memories of time spent in Pittsburgh