Thursday, January 14, 2010

History of Some Republican Office Holders Zimmerman and Dwyer

William Keisling and Richard Kearns. The Sins of Our Fathers: A Profile of Pennsylvania Attorney General LeRoy S. Zimmeran and a Historical Explanation of the Suicide of State Treasureur R. Budd Dwyer. (no publisher listed): Harrisburg, Pa.: 1988.

This is a look into two Pennsylvania statewide office holders, Attorney General LeRoy Zimmernan and State Treasurer. The book, using among its sources Judy Cohen, a secretary to Federal Prosecutor James West, claims the scope of an investigation involving kickbacks in awarding a state contract to CTA, a computer company, involved more people than those who were indicted. Robert Asher, Republican State Party Chairman, State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, and William Smith, were indicted and convicted of a scheme where CTA contributed $300,000 to the state Republican Party in return for obtaining a state contract. State Sen. John Shumaker of Dauphin County, a former President of Penn National Race Track, was typed onto indictments papers that were not used and the ones that were used deleted Shumaker’s name.

Shumaker was the sponsor of legislation that created the contract that was awarded to CTA. An attorney, William Smith, a former Dauphin County Republican Party Co-Chairman, testified that he told Shumaker he would divide in half the legal fees Smith would get on the CTA contract and give Shumaker half.

U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese allegedly interceded and inquired about this case which involved several Republican leaders. It is theorized that the prosecutors acted in respect of their superior’s wishes.

Former Harrisburg Police Chief Bruno Favasuli claimed many politicians took bribes from gambling interests. He believed that Pennsylvania Attorney General LeRoy Zimmerman actively seek to prosecute gamblers, including an uncle (or two) he alleged was involved in illegal gambling. Favasuli stressed he had no reason to believe Zimmeran ever helped these interests. Favasuli was indicted for allegedly taking money from gambling interests. He pled not guilty and the jury found him not guilty.

When Zimmerman was Dauphin County District Attorney, he dismissed a case and a warrant against one of his uncles, Johnny Magaro, on gambling charges, stating he did not believe it could be successfully prosecuted. Zimmerman was also his uncle’s guardian at the time, the authors claim.

Another Zimmerman relative, and also a relative of Favasuli’s wife, Aldo Magnelli was an alleged leader of organized crime in Harrisburg. He is listed as being on the state government payroll in the 1960s during the Scranton Administration although the Department of Labor and Industry, where he is listed as being employed, has no record of his working there. It is theorized he may have received compensation in return for doing no or little work. Magnelli was among the people arrested at a gathering of organized crime leaders in 1957 in Apalachin, N.Y., which was a famous recognition by the FBI that an organized crime system operated. The authors conclude that Zimmerman avoided interacting with Magnelli.

The authors were provided information about an FBI report that Zimmerman received money from gambling interests. The authors turned the report to the State Police. The Police didn’t want to accept it and offered it back. The authors insisted they take it.

Norman Bonneville, former Harrisburg Assistant Police Chief, told the authors that gambling used to be commonplace and that most police officers in the early 1950s knew it was going on but looked the other way while some police officers participated in the games. He told the authors the FBI had a tape of a Police Chief stating that Zimmmeran and State Sen. George Gekas allegedly intervened to prevent police raids where gambling took place. Bonneville pled guilty to receiving, from 1966, to 1977, $5,000 to $6,000 from gambling interests to not raid poker parties.

The authors claim when they interviewed Gekas, who then was a Member of Congress, told them, as the authors put it “people like himself and Roy Zimmerman are never investigated.”

The Citizens Alliance to Save Harrisburg (CASH), a coalition of neighborhood activities, some with training from social advocate Saul Alinsky, sought in the 1970s to remove nuisance bars and criminal activity from Harrisburg neighborhoods. District Attorney Zimmernan stated their claims of law police enforcement were hearsay.

The authors note that LeRoy Zimmerman, George Gekas, John Shumaker, and William Smith all attended Dickinson Law School and had known each other for many years.

William Brodhecker, a former Harrisburg police office in the Vice Squad, told the authors that, as the authors put it, “the politicians needed money, which the gamblers had, while the gamblers needed protection, which the gamblers had” and that Harrisburg had a “political system that was nine tenths corrupt.” He claimed District Attorney Martin Lock, under whom Zimmerman served as an Assistant District Attorney, also failed to prosecute gambling cases. Sam Orlowsky, a State Police Sergeant, confirmed to the authors that Dauphin County prosecutors had failed for some time to prosecute gamblers. Orlowski showed the authors a film of the Steelton Chief of Police taking money from an alleged criminal and stated he was upset that Zimmerman refused to prosecute the Police Chief.

The authors portray R. Budd Dwyer as a politician who accepted the status quo and did nothing to change it. Dwyer claims he only went along with the CTA scheme and that Zimmerman was more involved in it than he was. Dwyer is presented as the fall guy for the scandal.

The authors allege that Dwyer attempted to ask for a finder’s free in return for obtaining employment for someone, but that the deal fell through and no funds and hirings were exchanged. Zimmerman saw no need to prosecute this case.

John Torquato and William Smith of CTA sought to win a contract to obtain overpayments that state employees had made to Social Security. Payoffs allegedly were made to several bureaucrats. Dwyer at first resisted the scheme but finally gave in. Smith testified that Zimmerman called him to find out how much Dwyer was receiving, which was $300,000, and requested that Zimmerman’s political campaign committee should get half what Dwyer got and Smith agree. Smith denied this was a bribe.

The authors claim Dwyer was once proud he had awarded a state contract to someone who contributed $5,000 to the state Republican Party. People expressed surprise because some contracts led to much larger contributions, often into the millions of dollars. Dwyer’s acceptance of a $300,000 campaign contribution from CTA may have part of his learning that larger contributions were expected in return for state contracts.

Zimmerman’s opponent for Attorney General questioned whether Governor Richard Thornburgh was upset at Dwyer because Dwyer had questioned no-bid contracts awarded by the Governor. Dwyer stated he believed Zimmerman was involved in the CTA award bid. Dwyer committed suicide before he was sentenced.


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