SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Former Scranton mayor Bill Courtright pleads guilty to felony corruption charges.
Federal investigators say they haven’t seen anything quite like this before. They say Bill Courtright lined his pockets with cash at the expense of business owners who wanted to obtain or maintain city contracts. Courtright admitted to it all.
Former Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright had nothing to say to us as he walked into federal court in Williamsport. But in court, he admitted that he took bribes, some $50,000 worth from business owners and if he didn’t take bribes he too favors from those business owners such as free use of a beach house, landscape work at his home and remodeling work at a karate club he owned in south Scranton.
“All too often we see public servants such as the defendant use their office to benefit themselves. Bill Courtright used the city of Scranton. He used his office for money and other valued favors,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Mike Harpster said.
U.S. Attorney David Freed had this message: “I’m speaking to every public official within the sound of my voice. If it is not enough for you, get out now. Public office is not for personal financial gain. It is a crime plain and simple. People here have seen too much of it.”
The Courtright investigation, which is ongoing, comes just as our region heals from a wide-ranging public corruption probe 10 years ago in which some 50 public officials were indicted on corruption charges.
When asked what his reaction was to some people saying ‘here we go again’ Freed’s response was “I struggled with what to say today. What I say to my fellow citizens is we are here and we are going to continue working.”
Freed says this investigation is ongoing and he is not ruling out more arrests. He also announced the formation of a special joint corruption task force comprised of the state police, FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office. It will focus on only public corruption allegations and complaints.