Barbed Wire

BY RUBE LOMAX Over the past few decades we here in NEPA have collectively experienced several uber cliché “Trials of the Century” when it comes to deceitful public officials .

In addition to the masochistic Massengil by-products known as Ciaverella and Conahan within the past year, Lackawanna County has played witness to an assortment of courthouse dramas, from former Attorney General Ernie Preate, who left his position back in 1995 in order to serve time for mail fraud, to former State Representative Frank Serafini, who was sentenced to five months in prison for perjury in regards to illegal campaign contributions.

Of course, who could forget the sinfully sensational trial of Congressman Joe McDade – a.k.a. Paulie Pork Barrel Projects – whereupon he actually beat the feds in charges of bribery, conspiracy and racketeering back in 1996.

Stupefying acquittal aside, I’ll always remember the mystery woman in the red dress and matching red hat who was called on to testify during that sexy Courthouse Square soap opera.

Sensational headlines returned 10 short years later in 2006 when reports of a lawsuit filed against Don Sherwood by one Cynthia Ore who claimed the good Congressman choked her, provoking her to lock herself in the bathroom of Sherwood’s Washington, D.C. apartment and then call 911. The lawsuit eventually led to Sherwood’s political demise with Cynthia reportedly hitting the jackpot with a rumored $500,000 settlement.

Guess she struck it big thanks to a little ring around the collar.

Fast forward to this past Monday morning, when family and friends piled into a downtown Scranton Federal Courtroom to learn the fate of former Lackawanna County Commissioners Bob Cordaro and A.J. Munchak, who were sentenced to 11 and seven years, respectively, for their dual convictions in a bribery and extortion scheme.

And while my career has granted me front row seats to the past’s unfolding drama, I have to say Monday’s sentencing did not come close to the glib and melodramatic spectacles we have all come to know and love.

Monday was sad. Monday was depressing. Monday was heartbreaking and upsetting.

Now, the gods know I, personally, have not been on the good side of Bobby C. (and maybe for good reason). And A.J., well A.J. and I have always had a great affection for one another no matter where our political lines may have been drawn. Both their families’ pain was tangible and visceral. Young men pleading for mercy for their beloved dad. A devoted daughter begging leniency for her ill father.

In a nutshell: it all sucked. Big time. Two brash and bold characters forever interwoven into our area’s kaleidoscope of kooky culture will be missing from our lives for a very long time.

Bobby screaming. A.J. guffawing.

Even worse, they’ll be missing from the lives of their friends and families – the people who love them, warts and all.

And while I’m sure I’ll garner plenty of hate mail for these sappy and softhearted musings, it’s times like these when I reflect on my own poisoned penmanship and conclude that there by the grace of God go I. That’s why I’ve decided to head into the desert for the next two weeks, to reflect and meditate on the path of enlightenment that is intended to fulfill the true destiny of the loquacious and audacious Rude Rube.

Oh yeah, I also want to hit the Sedona Film Festival to catch the long-awaited premiere of Paul Sorvino’s magnum opus, “The Trouble with Cali.”

So while you may miss my prickly prose as we enter 2012, please remember that 15 years as a gossip columnist is perhaps way too long of a shelf life. Happy trails … to me? Send e-mail to

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