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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, August 22, 2016

Nazareth Mayor's Resignation Should Be Condition of ARD

On Friday, from Bluff City, TN, in what appears to be his seventh out-of-state trip this year, Nazareth Mayor Carl Strye stopped long enough to post this Facebook entry concerning his ARD application.

"The news is out, I have applied for the ARD program. All though [sic] I will not comment yet, I want to take this time to thank all of my family, friends and the numerous supporters for supporting me through this very awkward time in my life. Again thank you! I love all of you, I love this borough and appreciate everyone's love and support."

He's making no comment. He minimizes criminal behavior as nothing more than a "very awkward time" in his life. He also wants you to know he loves all of you, as well as Nazareth, like Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski loves Allentown. If either of those so-called leaders had even the slightest regard for their communities, they would have resigned long ago. They both need to resign now.

Fed Ed is enmeshed in a federal political corruption investigation, and will almost certainly be indicted by the end of the year. Strye is a thief who admitted to an investigating Grand Jury that he skimmed $8,000 from illegal gambling operations at Vigilance Hose, where he was the "responsible officer."

Just as there are those who say we need to be erecting a statue to Fed Ed, Strye has a large number of local cheerleaders. His Facebook post resulted in 187 "likes" and 13 "loves" from people that include Dave Mattei (State House candidate), Stephanie Varone (Main Street Manager), Don Keller (Nazareth's retired engineer), Fiorella Reginelli-Mirabito (Bath Mayor) and Brian Regn (Nazareth Borough Council). Jeremy Setzer writes, "This isn't a big deal, it's not like you deleted 33,000 emails." David Sevi philosophizes, "Shit happens." Sandy Kromer Eggert tells Strye "it takes courage" to seek ARD. Joey Murante invents a "#screwthehaters" hashtags. Some of these people are drinking or gambling buddies. A few may be real friends. Most obviously have agendas.

Unlike Jeremy Setzer, I know that it's a pretty big deal when a sitting Mayor is charged with a third degree felony involving dishonesty and the theft of funds entrusted to him. When he admits his criminal behavior to an Investigating Grand Jury, that's a disqualifying big deal. He needs to resign, and that should be a condition of ARD.

ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) is a special program for first offenders. Its primary purpose is the prompt disposition of charges, eliminating the need for costly and time consuming trials and other court proceedings in minor matters. But it is not a program for sweeping away unpleasant truths about elected officials.

Contrary to what Strye thinks, it is not he or his lawyer who files the motion. That is completely within the discretion of the District Attorney. And even if Morganelli files such a motion, the final decision is up to the Court.

The Stoudt ARD Experience

Morganelli has some experience to draw upon in Nazareth.  ARD was granted once before, in 2013, to an elected official - Nazareth Borough Council member Larry Stoudt. He is a bartender at the American Legion, which like many Nazareth clubs, is a hotbed of illegal gambling and who knows what else. He demanded Nazareth police to check out a suspected rat at the clubs. Chief Thomas Trachta refused, and after the third time, went to the Pennsylvania State Police. Because of his age, his veteran status and the widespread belief that Stoudt would never seek office again, he was placed on ARD.

Stoudt not only sought re-election, but still tends bar at the same club caught up in periodic gambling raids. Amazingly, he convinced the rest of Council to unanimously vote last year for a $52,900 gaming grant from the Commonwealth Financing Agency at the very same American Legion where he wanted local cops to rat out an informer. This is a private social club, and is of absolutely no benefit to the Borough, unless you like to gamble. The club has been cited seven times since 2000 for illegal gambling, sales to nonmembers and visibly intoxicated persons and dummy records. In 2013, the very year Stoudt was placed on ARD, the club was cited three times.

After being placed on ARD, Stoudt engaged in a clear conflict of interest in violation of the state Ethics Act. His fellow Council members, who themselves are well aware of this conflict, voted for the grant anyway.  On July 1, the Commonwealth Financing Agency granted $48,000 of the grant request while denying Bethlehem Township funding for a police car.

So ARD for Stoudt was a failure.

Vigilance Hose and Strye

While Stoudt essentially laughed off obstruction charges, Carl Strye was watching from Vigilance Hose, yet another Nazareth Club with a tradition of illegal gambling. He was the "responsible officer" at the Vig, which during his tenure was raided seven times for gambling machines and sales to nonmembers. The club was fined $1,000, $1,000, $100, $400, $400 and $600. Its license was also suspended once.

Either shortly before or after being appointed Mayor, Strye skimmed $8,000 from gambling operations at the Vig in 2013. His lifestyle certainly supports the conclusion that he has stolen far more in his years the Vig. White collar crime is extremely difficult to prove, but Detective John Casciano never hesitated at the painstaking task of putting together the evidence, helped by a John Morganelli Investigating Grand Jury.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Strye admitted his theft in testimony to the Grand Jury.

Retaliation Against Local Police

As you might imagine, Larry Stoudt was enraged at the indignity of being caught in misusing the authority of his office. He, along with other Council members, did what they could to weaken the police force. The best way to accomplish that is by keeping full-timers at a bare minimum. Officer Freddy Lahovski, arguably one of the best cops in the Lehigh Valley, was illegally fired. He was reinstated with nearly two years of backpay. He then sued and was given $440,000 to walk away. Another full-timer, Steve Schleig, was harassed repeatedly in an effort to force him to quit. He sued, too. So did a third police officer, Adam Shimer, a veteran from Nazareth who always wanted to be a cop in Nazareth.

After a series of raids in 2015, which ultimately led to Strye, the social clubs got together and were able to out the undercover officer responsible. Carl Strye was one of the insiders making sure that the identity of this person was disclosed at a Super Bowl Party held at Holy Family. But the fun was just beginning.

One Nazareth cop, despite being dumped on from every direction, was sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. That cop is Freddy Lahovski. He got the DA's office involved.

When Lahovski was paid $440,000 to walk away earlier this year, Strye thought his troubles were finally over. They were just beginning, as he later discovered.

Strye's Lack of Remorse

Far more troubling than the theft charges is Strye's complete lack of remorse, as evidenced by his Facebook comments and in statements to The Express Times. He lied to me in several email exchanges, denying he had even been to the Grand Jury or that he ever engaged in skimming. After being charged, he incredibly told reporters that he could still run the police department with a "left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing" bullshit argument. He even complained that he wanted this kept "in house," out of the public eye. There was no apology for letting the community down. No shame.

I have told you all along that Strye would cry for ARD. But now the DA has a track record of what happens when ARD is handed out like candy to an elected official. Stoudt never displayed an ounce of remorse, and is up to his eyeballs doing exactly what got him in trouble in the first place. Because of his complete unwillingness to accept responsibility, Strye should be denied participation in this program unless he resigns as Mayor. He was voted into office when most people had no idea he was a thief and was heavily involved in Nazareth's illegal gambling. Allowing him to remain in office is a slap across the face of every voter.

Stoudt and Strye then have done their level best to weed out good cops. They want a culture of corruption.

Morganelli and the courts can prevent this from happening.

This is precisely what erodes public confidence in government. Strye needs to "suck it up, cupcake!" and resign. 


Anonymous said...

Who ever heard of a small time borough having a Police Commissioner and a Chief of Police administrating over 4-full Time police officers. It is ludicrous at best and this is the product of Strye/Stoudt government. It is about time the citizens of Nazareth rid themselves of these arrogant inane people and throw the rest of Council who supports these clowns. Maybe with a clean sweep Nazareth can be great again!

Anonymous said...

No ARD for the mayor! He shows no remorse and does not deserve it! Make him pay! The voters in Nazareth are zombies! Vote these clowns out!

Anonymous said...

"War and Peace" revisited

Anonymous said...

Yes, awkward.

Anonymous said...

This is a symptom of the far larger problem in America, we see more corruption and it is now taken for granted and defended by many as either that is just the way it is, or sides need to be taken to defend their allies at all costs. The general public seems to find all these details beyond comprehension, or too complacent to care. It is just another symptom of the general moral decline of the country. It now seems to be pervasive from the highest to lowest offices.

Anonymous said...

This is not only a theft of funds other than there own, public, private and ofcourse the infamous campaign donations!? Than there is the theft of services rendered as a public servant, failure to do service to do diservice and also the hostel living environment created supposidly as a progression when in reality it is REgreation!?
REpublican redd no party affiliation

Anonymous said...

What's awkward for Carl is that he has put himself in a position with his poor judgement that what's bad for him is good for Nazareth and vice versa. He must know deep down that the best thing he can do for the place he "loves so much" is to step aside.

Hopefully Morganelli realizes what's in the balance -- that by letting Carl remain in his leadership position, he'll be killing New Nazareth in the cradle.

The closing of the Fleas Club (http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2016/08/south_side_easton_social_club.html) seems like a harbinger of things to come in Nazareth, whether it's this year or three years from now.

Does Morganelli have a deadline for his decision?

Anonymous said...

Bernie, thanks for posting all this in one place. You've provided history and context that's sorely lacking in the one-off articles ET and MC have offered to describe Nazareth's leadership travails.

Anonymous said...

Nice work Bernie

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Does Morganelli have a deadline for his decision?"

John said he would make a decision this week. In the Stoudt matter, he said he had to treat everyone the same, elected or not. That worked out very poorly. Elected officials have to be held to higher standards, especially given the amount of public corruption going on statewide.

Bernie O'Hare said...

""War and Peace" revisited

Yes, this is lengthy, as are many of my pieces. Good bloggers and reporters should should never more than 300 words, they say, bc no one will read something taking more than 30 seconds. Verbosity is one of my flaws. I am grateful to those who appreciate this long-form journalism.

Anonymous said...

Good points and hopefully Morganelli realizes ARD is not the answer for Carl Strye Jr.
What concerns many is the moment Strye admitted to the Grand Jury that he skimmed (stole) $8,000.00 all seemed to come to an abrupt halt. This so called Mayor is a criminal and the investigation needs to be reopened.
Nazareth really still only has 2 full-time officers. I can't find the last time a full-time officer was hired and made it through the probation period to continue on in that capacity in the past few administrations. If you look at the articles wriiten in the local rags it seems clear the council has been pulling the wool over the taxpayers eyes on this subject for many years.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to attack my personal integrity, you are going to have to display some of your own and identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I am definitely not part of the TL:DR generation and appreciate long-form journalism and the detail associated with. While I appreciate the skillset required to communicate in 140-character soundbytes, I find it lacking.

With that out of the way, I predict resigning as mayor will not be a part of ARD acceptance and Strye will be re-elected if he chooses to seek reelection.

I also find this extremely disappointing and reflects very poorly on the community of Nazareth and its feeble-minded constituents. The $8,000 that can be proven over the small snapshot period that was investigated is only the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn't doubt if the $100K plus that is rumored is very likely over the long haul that the fox was watching the henhouse.

If I were Strye, I would be afraid to show my face. Instead he continues to rub everyone's nose in it with his summer-long vacation schedule and boasting in Nazareth Diner and Ressler's Market. You are a pathetic liar, Carl.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I don't always agree with your writing but it is always informative and has been obviously investigated. Your views sometimes don't come close to mine. That said. In the case of the mayor of Nazareth you are spot on. I do feel the investigation was not thorough and needs to be reopened. The fact that Strye admitted such a small amount is a sin but it does show he was capable of having the intent to commit the crime. If DA Morganelli wants the support of those watching this unfold it appears to me that his investigation at this point is not complete but closed based a criminals admission of guilt to a degree far below the actual tally in most circles. The ARD should not even be on the table.
This guy could obviously go to jail and the people of Nazareth would still accept him with open arms as their mayor. Really does show the true value the people of Nazareth put in the law. Not much at all and that is also apparent in the way they conduct business with their police dept. They appear to be more concerned with the way Nazareth is projected as a cute little colonial settlement rather than a stronghold of corrupt leadership and drug use acceptance.
The first thing they do is rid themselves of good and enjoy keeping the leftover.

Not a robot said...

Why heck didn't the DA charge Strye or anyone else with illegal gambling? Criminal conspiracy? The club has been fined six times for gambling. But the fines are pretty small compared to the amount of money that is being brought in through gambling. These fines are simply a small business expense.

If you call the police to report that someone has stolen your drugs, the police will arrest you:


Why are there no charges against the people who reported that their illegal gambling profits were stolen?

Anonymous said...

The thing that sickens me in looking at his facebook cheerleaders is the background of some of the people rooting him on. The wife of a current police officer? The former superintendent?

Really people? You are okay with his dishonesty and thievery? Shame on all of you and heaven help the rest of us.

This is why I am convinced he will skate on this.

Anonymous said...

1:55 Right you are. Worse yet is he will walk a free man with his corrupt head held high and buy another round for all his drunken supporters at his newly chosen holy family club. Ironic isn't it. You know the ones on his facebook page you make reference to. These people clearly have no respect for themselves or the law apparently.

Anonymous said...

if he didn't pay tax on the money he embezzled, hopefully the IRS will get involved.

Anonymous said...

this morganelli / ohare love team is quite the mystery

Anonymous said...

Supporters of this criminal should seriously reconsider their roles as public servants as their selfishness speaks not only to their greed and condoning criminal behaviorj but also to a sense of entitlement to do whatever best serves their own interests above those of the people they are supposed to be serving Ironic that on this day a woman is sent to jail for stealing a stuffed animal, and Mayor admits to stealing $8,000 but it is more likely in the vicinity of $100,000. I hope the DA makes an example of him and denies ARD as the "leaders" of Nazareth need to be put in their places.

Anonymous said...

Vote council out with fresh blood.

Anonymous said...

90% of Morganelli's docket each year ends with ARD or a plea deal.

ARD is the new taxing authority on WE the People...evidence is flimsy, we do not want YOU, only YOUR MONEY, and poof, no record

50% of plea deals end in a probation program that also has fees...another tax

30% of plea deals end in time served because defendant could not make bail, and served pre-trial jail time

20% of plea deals wind up in actual jail time

But the jails are full because all of the poor schnooks who did not realize how $$$$ expensive the ARD is, or the plea deal is, wind up in debtors jail.

Its all about the money, the prison industry complex, the judicial industry complex, and all of the other state funded programs that get fatter and fatter when someone gets caught ......

The war on drugs is fake, they only want YOUR money, not you.....just keep paying the fat fees, and all the guys/gals in suits can keep bleeding the system dry until they die with fat pensions

The drug industry is supporting the DA, Judges, probation, secretaries, corrections and administration

Without drugs, there would be no jobs.

Anonymous said...

Plea bargaining is bullcrap. If the defendant didn't do the crime don't make the charge. Unless you intend to give everyone a fair trial for charges you can prove than the only being bargained is integrity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You have no idea what you are talking about. For starters, the jails are far from full. And people who are unable to pay their fines are not jailed. Also, last time I checked, the county is owed tens of millions in unpaid costs and fines precisely bc of deadbeats who refuse to pay. The criminal division uses a collections agency, but should go the criminal contempt route against you. Also a criminal fine is NOT a tax.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Plea bargaining is essential to our criminal justice system. Without it, the entire system comes crashing down.

Anonymous said...

The douchebag mayor strye "loves nazerath like OJ LOVED NICOLE. That said Morganelli should not even approve of this scumbag's application for ARD. Her doesn't deserve it. He is bragging how he owns Morganelli and the DA will approve it and he isn't a bit concerned one bit.



Anonymous said...

Not everyone in Nazareth holds you and your sticker goon jerk posse in the high regard you think they should. The Mayor has every right to be treated the same as anyone else. You just have a real hate thing for Nazareth officials because they are not afraid of you and your goons.

Maybe the way you are emotionally obsessed over this is why you can no longer practice law. So your legal opinion carry's little weight with real lawyers and judges.

Real Nazareth Proud

Bernie O'Hare said...

Real Nazareth Proud is not from Nazareth at all. She is cRaZy Tricia Mezzacappa, an adjudicated liar whom I successfully sued for defamation. When I first became critical of Strye, she Facebook friended him and of course liked his most recent self-serving post. She herself has several harassment convictions and is one of those who refuses to pay her most recent conviction, despite having money for the firing range. Like most of Stye's so-called supporters, she has an agenda. Pay your fine, Mezzacappa. Your constable payment for November's election should be held until you pay your fine.

Anonymous said...

I hope carl has to give the 8k back to the community plus 23.89 percent interest. I'm sure he was just borrowing the money as a down payment for the rv.

Anonymous said...

Real Nazareth Proud--

Id be real proud to say the elected Mayor is a self admitted thief of the local fire company,,,, LOL Sick and sicker-

Is it he water or gene pool? There are a lot of folks very embarrassed by this-

The stench that Carl Strye is disgusting as not just an elected official but as a human being. This POS Mayor and those that can defend an admitted thief from a volunteer organization?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Not surprised to see another hate screed from this blogger.....when right next door in Easton, Panto-Pecktor are making great strides with their down town and a new state of the art police station. Its big news with Freeman, Boscola, etc at the ground breaking ceremony....But it is impossible for this blogger to see the good in anything...oh thats right, he hates developers because developers are successful and know how to make money.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I deleted the comment at 7:52. The comment at 8:39 is also an OT anonymous attack. What I think about developers has nothing to do with Strye.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked, but pleased, at this development.


Now, will he agree to the terms and resign?

Anonymous said...

What a shame. That just told all it is ok to steal because the first time you can get ARD Lock your homes Nazareth..
This DA must go.
If he runs for office no chance.
Strye loves his town but I bet he loves his ass more. Guy will resign. No balls after all this.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:58, I had a feeling the DA would insist on resignation, but you never know.

3:44, I don't like Strye, but The DA made the right call. He wants Strye to resign, but after that, he should be given the same break anyone else would get. ARD is given all the time for these kinds of thefts, so long as the money is paid back. My chief concern was that the fox would still be in the hen house.

Anonymous said...

Someone made a good point. If Strye resigns and completes the ARD he could theoretically run for mayor again, correct?

And if that happens, citizens of Nazareth would be foolish enough to elect him again.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are correct and he can run again after he resigns. The people who vote for or against him will have full knowledge. But that's the way our system works. I'm ok with it, considering the alternatives. .

Anonymous said...

I hope they put Lance Colondo in as interim mayor.