On six days between Feb. 15 and March 28, Coaldale Mayor Richard P. Corkery logged on to his computer at work, searched for teenage boys and downloaded 34 images of young men engaged in sexual acts, 28 of whom were determined to be teenagers, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Nesquehoning Police Chief Sean Smith with District Judge Casimir Kosciolek of Lansford.
On Thursday afternoon, Corkery, 72, of 249 W. Early Ave., was arraigned before Kosciolek on 28 counts of child pornography. He was released under $50,000 recognizance bail, which means he did not have to post any money or property to remain free.At the arraignment, Corkery, through his attorney, Nicholas Quinn of Pottsville, waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His next court date is a pretrial conference on Sept. 8. At least until then, he was ordered to stay away from minors and is forbidden from using or possessing computers. He must also register with the Carbon County Adult probation unit by the end of today and to be fingerprinted and undergo a mental health evaluation.Corkery could potentially face up to 21 years in prison if found guilty, Assistant Carbon County District Attorney Joseph Matika said outside the courtroom."The type of offense that this is graded a felony of the third degree. For a defendant with no prior record score, the sentencing range is anywhere from probation to nine months per charge. There have been 28 charges filed," he said.Corkery could also face restrictions under Megan's Law legislation, including having to register his addresses with state police.Downloading the images was no accident, Matika said."Based on the investigation the state trooper did, this was not a mistake," he said. "It couldn't have been. He admitted being on some of the websites in question. He did deny at first some of the other photographs that were taken, but the evidence is conclusive that the only person that could have downloaded these photographs would have been him. He was logged in, they were downloaded, he was logged off. He was at the computer when the pictures were downloaded."It's a very strong case. Between the forensic examination, interviews with the other employees and what the defendant himself has admitted," Matika said.Defense Attorney Quinn, however, focused on Corkery's past and character. He said he has just gotten to know Corkery."But it seems to me he's led an exemplary life up to this point. He's done a lot of good things. He did a lot of good things in the Philadelphia area and he's presently serving a mayoral term in Coaldale. We're going to do what's best for him in this case, we're going to get it on the fastest track possible to put it behind him," Quinn said. "When the time comes for a final plea and sentencing, I'm sure we'll have the courtroom filled with people who will attest to his prior character and his good character that he has exhibited up to this point."Matika said that there would be no more investigation in the downloading case."It is another sad chapter in Coaldale's history, whether the charges are dismissed or upheld. I believe that Mayor Corkery should do the proper action by resigning his position as mayor effective immediately," said Councilman Tom Keerans, who is head of the Police Committee.However, Corkery's friend, Councilman David Yelito, who has often worked with Corkery on issues ranging from the Coaldale Complex to the town's alert siren, was supportive. He drove Corkery to the arraignment and told a television news crew that Corkery is a "very nice man, and a church goer. I feel he's harmless. He can do a lot of things for this community, if they just give him a chance to prove himself."Corkery, clad in his traditional Washington Senators baseball cap, white golf shirt and dark trousers, did not speak to news media before or after the arraignment.The investigationNesquehoning police began an investigation on April 6, sparked by an anonymous letter, with a Lehigh Valley post mark."Please look into allegations of child pornography concerning Richard Corkery, the mayor of Coaldale. He was recently let go from WLSH radio in Nesquehoning due to personal use of the computer. The personal use is regarding boys and the fact that they were naked. Child pornography. It is said that he printed pictures of these boys. Please take this seriously; we cannot have a man like this walking our streets, nor coming in contact with young boys!" the letter read.Station owner Chris Fulmer contacted Police Chief Sean Smith on May 4 and confirmed that Corkery, who had been manning the popular "Dutch Trader" program, was fired for looking at child pornography on the job. Fulmer consented to a forensic examination of the computer.Smith took the computer into evidence that day. State Trooper Scott Sotack of the State Police Computer Crimes Unit found 34 pornographic images of young males downloaded on Feb. 15, March 7, March 11, March 21 and March 28, all between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.Sotack and trooper Brian Murphy took what they found to Dr. Thomas Novinger, medical director of health services and medical informatics at Geisinger Health Plan. Novinger, who has testified in court as a medical expert, determined that 28 of the males shown in the downloaded images were under age 18.On May 16, Federal Bureau of Investigation agent John Bates, 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.Weaving into asmall townCorkery on Thursday told Kosciolek he had bought his house in 2002 and had moved to Coaldale, in Schuylkill County, from Philadelphia permanently in 2005. He immediately became involved in the borough.In a 2005 newspaper interview, he told a reporter he had moved to the borough because as a child he had visited a friend who lived there and liked the place. He said he decided to move to the borough when he retired because he liked the ambience."What really impressed me was the people," he said at the time. "I think it's heaven."In October 2005, Coaldale Borough Council appointed the retired accountant to replace a councilman who had resigned. Corkery, who had lost his bid for the council seat in the May primary election, served for the two years remaining on the councilman's term, then successfully sought election to the mayor's seat, which he won in 2009.As mayor of Coaldale, Corkery was the picture of piety as he placed his palms together and bowed his head to lead council and audience members in reciting the Lord's Prayer at the start of public meetings. He adopted a policy of opening his door to the public on Tuesdays, to listen to their concerns and offer advice. He spoke at Memorial Day services of the need for a return to morality.In October 2006, Corkery unsuccessfully sought a Panther Valley School Board seat vacated by the death of John Terray.Corkery had told the reporter that as a teenager, he began working with children, serving as a camp counselor, baseball and basketball coach, and boxing instructor. He said he founded the Richmond Robins Baseball Club in 1965 and served as its head coach.Corkery graduated from Father Judge High School, Philadelphia in 1957 and had attended St. Charles Seminary, also in Philadelphia, for four years. Before retiring, he worked as an accountant for the University of Pennsylvania, he said in the 2005 interview.A report published in the TIMES NEWS in May 2008, says that "from 1956, Dick Corkery has spent a lifetime in athletics program management, administration, and coaching of children and young adults. During 1958 and 1959, Dick was an assistant scout for the Washington Senators of the American Baseball League. He also served as an umpire for many years. The activities included coaching baseball, swimming, football, and basketball. He also served as an administrator and commissioner of several athletic conferences. Dick also served as the director of several boys and girls clubs and CYO organizations. Most of Dick's involvement and dedication to athletic programs for children and young adults has been on a volunteer basis. Dick has influenced the lives of thousands of children in a remarkable way through athletics."