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Friday, November 30, 2012

Sentencing Day

Former State Senator Bob Bellow will be sentenced today in federal court.

At one time, Bob Mellow was one of the most powerful people in Pennsylvania, and one of the most arrogant.  He stole your money by having public employees do partisan political work-- even as the attorney general was investigating the practice.  Bob Mellow had no fear.

I smell a little fear now.  The feds want Mellow sentenced to two years in prison.  Mellow's lawyers counter that he has a long history of public service.  There are health issues, and they claim probation is appropriate here.

I can see it coming.  Mellow will say he's sorry.  Stolen money, the stuff that could be proven, will be repaid.  Defense lawyers will hit the health issue hard, and will claim Bob has already suffered enough by the loss of his stature in the community.

The judge will nod, and Mellow will be sentenced at the low end of the scale.  He'll get his probation.

If you really look at it, Mellow was pretty good at tossing around your money.   Supporters will point to all the good he did while serving as Lackawanna County's state senator.  I will submit that we paid for that.  How much came out of his pocket?

A fellow blogger, NCFE, blames some of this on a lazy electorate.  He makes a very strong point.  We kept sending Bob back to Harrisburg year after year.  While there, all he did was raise his pay,  increase his pension and grab as much power as possible.

What's done is done.  You can't turn back the clock, but I hope we can all be a lot smarter next time.

I'll pass along a thought or two after the sentence is handed down.

>>>UPDATE:    I have to admit I'm shocked.  If you or I stole $80,000 there would be no doubt we would go to prison, but rich man's justice is a different game.

Mellow's lawyers threw everything against the wall, hoping something would stick:  bad health, he was Mr. Charity, dependent daughter, etc.  The judge saw right through it.  Mellow is wealthy and could afford to give.  Public service was part of his job as a state senator.

I wonder what went through Mellow's mind when he heard the judge say a downward adjustment in the sentence range wouldn't happen.  All that power, all that arrogance... was it worth it?

It wasn't so much what Bob Mellow did, but rather how he did it.  He had his senate staffers do partisan political work, even while the practice was being investigated.  Brazen.  It was no secret.  Radio talk show host Steve Corbett even caught staffers in the act when it came to tickets for Mellow's yearly Montage Mountain party.

He was corrupt.  He stole your money.  He got caught.

You have to wonder what the amount would be if every case or incident came to light.  I'm betting $ 80,000 would be low.  Defense lawyers call this a "stumble."  I shudder to think at what a "fall" entails.

Did Bob Mellow do some good things?  No doubt.  However, it would take a lot of wonderful acts to overcome the way he betrayed the public trust, almost laughing at the people who sent him back to Harrisburg time and again.

I'm wondering how his lawyers calculated that $ 2.4 billion Bob Mellow economic impact.

THE SENTENCE:  16 months in prison, 3 years probation, $40,000 fine.

As always, if the former state senator would like to tell me his side of the story, I'll grab a camera.  Any time, any place.  I'm not hard to find.