OLD FORGE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)— A man from Old Forge was convicted of federal program bribery, honest services wire fraud, perjury, as well as several other related charges on Friday.
Officials said James Peperno Jr., 57, was convicted for taking cash payments from a local business owner to bribe Robert Semenza Jr., the former President of the Old Forge Borough Council, for debt relief.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of PA, Peperno bribed Semenza with cash from the business owner, as well as a promise of future employment, to convince other members of the council to approve the civil litigation Peperno proposed.
Officials said Peperno was found guilty of giving perjured testimony in a separate court case where he was ordered to pay approximately $390,000 in restitution for wire fraud. Peperno didn’t pay any of the restitution for over a year and a half because he had “no income or access to his bank account” despite receiving $6,000 from the business owner in the weeks prior to his statement.
After seven hours of deliberation, court representatives said the jury convicted Peperno of one count of conspiring to commit federal program bribery and honest services wire fraud, two counts of federal program bribery, two counts of perjury, and several other charges. The jury acquitted Peperno of money laundering charges.
The maximum penalty for Peperno’s conviction is 20 years in prison, a term of supervised release, and a fine.
Semenza pled guilty to federal program bribery in June 2021 and is awaiting sentencing.