EVER SINCE Luzerne County’s crooked judges pleaded guilty to fraud charges in February, this community’s collective ear has been listening for more news, waiting to hear the other shoe drop.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation this week seized more piles of public records, not all of them at the courthouse, in effect triggering a cascade of shoes not seen since Imelda Marcos emptied her closet.
The FBI, which does not comment on active investigations, appears to be zeroing in on irregularities in the way Luzerne County’s court handled uninsured motorist insurance cases and, separately, possible hanky-panky within the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. A grand jury proceeding is scheduled next week in Scranton, presumably related to the insurance cases.
The ongoing investigations and related national publicity reflect poorly on Luzerne County, which appears able to rival Chicago as the nation’s corruption capital. Area residents understandably might view the situation as shameful, even embarrassing. But they should welcome the long-overdue scrutiny, recognizing that it offers a chance to sweep away not only the offenders but also old notions of how public business here should be conducted.
Let’s prepare for a fresh start. Let’s abandon the mentality that people should turn their heads while, wink-wink, powerbrokers seal their dirty deals. And, in the short term, let’s be patient.
The FBI might not act as swiftly as some people want, especially in regard to other possible players in the juvenile justice scandal. Yet Luzerne County will be far better off if each investigation is pursued methodically and thoroughly.
Real justice, after all, can’t be rushed.
If you have credible information about corruption, call the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (570) 344-2404.