An overflow crowd packed Coaldale Borough Hall on Tuesday to ask for the resignation of disgraced Mayor Richard Corkery, who in May admitted to police that he used his work computer to download 28 images of child pornography.
Although Corkery, along with friend and ally Councilman David Yelito, was absent, the mayor apparently has no intention of stepping down.
In an Aug. 9 letter to council, Corkery wrote that " ... in order for our council to be able to carry on the very necessary business of running the borough with as little unnecessary distraction as possible, I will not attend council meetings until this matter has been put to bed."
After council President Susan Solt read Corkery's Aug. 9 letter, solicitor Michael Greek spoke, telling the quiet crowd that council is powerless to oust the mayor.
Greek told the audience the office of mayor is an elected position.
"We do not have any control over the mayor. We cannot exclude him from the meetings ... In light of the allegations, there is nothing the municipality can do to remove the mayor or take any action because there has not been any conviction of any crime. There is nothing that borough council can do with respect to the office of mayor at the present time."
Although disappointment rippled through the crowd, there were no outbursts or overt anger. On Saturday, the Concerned Citizens of Coaldale placed an advertisement in the TIMES NEWS asking residents to attend the council meeting to request that Corkery resign. During the meeting, Police Chief Tim Delaney and several officers, including two who stood at opposite ends of the meeting room, were on alert.
Solt thanked the audience for its respect.
Council opened its meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. Traditionally, Corkery, palms together and head bowed, would first lead council in prayer before the pledge; there was no public prayer on Tuesday.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Nesquehoning Police Chief Sean Smith, on six days between Feb. 15 and March 28, Corkery searched for sexual images of teenage boys on his computer at WLSH radio station in Nesquehoning and downloaded 34 images of young men engaged in sexual acts, 28 of whom were determined by police experts to be teenagers.
Corkery was fired by WLSH. After receiving an anonymous letter, police launched an investigation on April 6. On May 16, Federal Bureau of Investigation agent John Bates, state Trooper Scott Sotack and Smith spoke with Corkery, who admitted searching for and looking at child pornography sites, including those showing images of naked males under age 18, on the radio station's computer. Corkery admitted that none of his co-workers did this.
Corkery, 72, of 249 W. Early Ave., was arraigned July 14 on 28 counts of child pornography before District Judge Casimir Kosciolek. He was released under $50,000 recognizance bail, which means he did not have to post any money or property to remain free. He was ordered to stay away from minors and is forbidden from using or possessing computers.
However, Carbon County Judge Steven R. Serfass on Aug. 1 added conditions to the bail: Corkery may not attend church services on Wednesdays, when children are at the service. Serfass also permitted him to visit the home of a neighbor, and also allowed him to attend high school junior varsity and varsity football games, but only in the company of his neighbor.
At the hearing, probation officer Jillian McGinley, who is supervising Corkery, testified she went to his home on July 27 as part of her duties and became concerned due to the large number of photographs of young males throughout the entire home.
After listening to McGinley's testimony, Serfass ordered the county adult probation office to immediately remove the photos from Corkery's home.
Corkery faces anywhere from probation to nine months in jail on each charge, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Matika has said. Corkery could also face restrictions under Megan's Law legislation, including having to register his addresses with state police.