OCTOBER 26, 2005
Today a grand jury indicted Philadelphia City Councilman Rick Mariano for taking bribes “to help businessmen finagle schemes that cost taxpayers more than $700,000 – crimes that netted him just $30,000.”
Considering the seriousness of the charges, an attempted cover-up of the illegal misdeeds, allegations of witness intimidation, and a very recent suicide scare, it seems that Mariano needs all the help he can get.
The corruption charges, which his lawyer vigorously disputed, were filed less than a week after a despondent Mariano climbed to the top of City Hall and sparked a suicide scare that ended with a weekend of psychiatric care.
The grand jury alleged that in exchange for paying $23,000 in credit-card bills and providing a fancy gym membership, Mariano helped his codefendants acquire a significant tax break, a lucrative city contract, and valuable vacant city land at a discount.
Mariano also participated in a cover-up, according to a 26-count indictment that made him the first elected city official charged with public corruption since 1991.
Mariano could face up to 10 years in federal prison, but Mariano’s lawyer is extremely upbeat, saying that the case of his client is “not only defensible, not only triable, and I mean this sincerely – it is winnable.”
One of the allegations leveled against Mariano is that he secured a tax break for a company in exchange for help in paying off a $23,000 credit-card debt. Another scheme also involves Mariano securing a $225,000 consulting contract for Joseph Pellecchia in exchange for help in paying off another ($6,672) of Mariano’s credit-card debts.
With Mariano’s indictment, it is most likely he will soon have two, larger debts. One to his legal defense and one to the citizens of Philadelphia for harming their trust in government and tarnishing the reputation of their city.
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