Pizzella pleads not guilty

First Posted: 12/18/2009

Beleaguered Area School Board President Frank Pizzella Jr. filed a not guilty plea Friday to a charge he allegedly acted as go between in a $5,000 bribe someone paid for a teaching job in the district.

The plea was entered at the Max Rosenn Federal Court House in Wilkes-Barre around noon before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Malachy Mannion. Pizzella and his attorney Joseph Blazosek declined comment after the brief arraignment.

Federal agents have accused Pizzella of acting as the go-between for a $5,000 bribe paid by the relative of a person seeking a teaching job to a sitting board member in 2004, three years before Pizzella won election to the board in 2007. Pizzella has maintained his innocence since the indictment was handed down Sept. 15. He remained as School Board president and was re-elected to that post by his fellow member this month.

Mannion set a tentative start of jury election for Feb. 22, 9:30 a.m. in the Scranton Federal Building.

U.S. Assistant Attorney William Houser agreed that Pizzella could remain free on his own recognizance until then, but asked that he be ordered not to talk to any known or potential witnesses to his case. Mannion agreed to the request.

For the complete story, see Saturday’s edition of The Times Leader.

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