SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Former Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright was back in court Friday for a sentencing hearing. It’s the first time since he plead guilty last year to federal criminal extortion, conspiracy and bribery as the mayor of Scranton.
The prosecution called an FBI agent to the stand, a contract worker with Northeast Revenue Service and the former director for the Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau.
Courtwright was supposed to be sentenced more than nine months ago. But with a dispute between prosecutors and Courtright’s lawyer, it’s still unclear how many months or years he will be behind bars.
Courtright received 30-thousand dollars from the president of Northeast Revenue Service from 2013-2017. The private company handled Scranton’s delinquent taxes. The tens of thousands of dollars were a pay-to-play scheme, funneling the finances through a third-party source, to Courtright to help him get elected in 2013 and to ensure the city kept its contract with the company.
While in office, taxpayers paid $2.9 million in fees to Northeast, at a 15-percent collection rate.
All while Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau had a proposal on the table since Courtright took office, which would have saved taxpayers 1.8 million dollars over the same period with a 5 percent collection rate. Courtright ignored the offer.
Within sentencing guidelines, along with the $30,000, federal prosecutors are including the total value taxpayer’s loss as a result of Courtright not accepting the county’s proposal for kickbacks.
In court the defense argues, the contract with Northeast and the city was implemented before he even took office.
If the judge rules in favor of prosecutors, it could be the difference of years or decades behind bars for Courtright.