|Morganelli with former Nazareth Police|
Officer Eric Schwab, who left for
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
DA: Mayor Strye Can Have ARD If He Resigns
Nazareth Mayor Carl Strye has been charged with skimming $8,000 from gambling operations at the Vig Hose, where he was president for many years before being appointed Mayor. He admitted his theft in Grand Jury testimony. After being charged, he waved his preliminary hearing, something innocent people don't do. Last week, he applied for something called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). That's a special program for first offenders in which charges are dismissed after a period of probation.
On Monday, I argued that Strye's resignation should be a condition of ARD. NorCo DA John Morganelli agrees. (His letter approving Strye's application is below). Morganelli is willing to admit Strye into this special program, but on two conditions. First, Strye must make full restitution of the $8000 he skimmed. Second, Strye must resign his position as Mayor.
Morganelli is troubled by Strye’s involvement in, not just theft, but illegal gambling. Some of you have wondered about this, so let me stop for a moment to make clear that a District Attorney enforces the Crimes Code, not the Liquor Code. The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement investigates allegations of illegal gambling. The state usually acts administratively through the Liquor Control Board, and not criminally. That is why DAs across the state have little involvement in illegal gambling.
Still, I personally believe there is a direct connection between these machines and organized crime. Who supplies the machines these clubs use? Who gets part of the take? Who showers people like Strye with tickets to big sporting events? Strye has admitted to me that he accepts tickets, and I am sure those were never shared with members of the Vig, nor was the value of these tickets reported on income tax returns.
In 1990, the now defunct Pa. Crime Commission claimed that a loose confederation of racketeers, including Bootsie Shumar, were bookmakers who ran the poker machines in the Lehigh Valley. Feds raided the Easton Fleas, where Bootise was an owner, in 2004. According to the US Attorney, Bootsie was giving $1,000 per week kickbacks to club stewards. He was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison despite words of praise from Easton Mayor Sal Panto. It was Shumar's sixth gambling conviction.
Was Bootsie supplying the machines used by "Sneakers" Strye, as they call the Nazareth Mayor?
Strye would know.
And that's a problem. In addition to being associated with the gambling underworld, something he has continued at other clubs, Strye is in charge of Nazareth's beleaguered police department. The fox is quite literally in the hen house. So is Council member Larry Stoudt, who is also involved in the illegal poker operations at the clubs. He actually tried to use local police to rat out a state police informant at the Legion, where he tends bar.
Ironically, Borough Council President Dan Chiavaroli praised Strye in The Morning Call for his work on the police department, which they've emasculated. The last thing Strye or Council wants is an effective police department.
Fortunately, Morganelli rejects Nazareth's so-called leaders. "This office would be remiss in allowing Mr. Strye to continue to be in charge of police operations and supervision as a result of his criminal conduct."