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Comments about Mayor Corkery set off councilman's outburst

  • CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Coaldale business owner Ruth Weiss speaks at a council meeting Tuesday.
    CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Coaldale business owner Ruth Weiss speaks at a council meeting Tuesday.
Published September 12. 2012 05:02PM

A Coaldale business owner's statements about borough Mayor Richard Corkery at a public meeting Tuesday triggered a furious outburst from Councilman David Yelito.

Ruth Weiss, who owns a restaurant on East Phillips Street, said that on Aug. 27, she came in to work at 6 a.m. and left the front unlocked as she readied the eatery for business. A young woman ran in, screaming, with a man right behind her, yelling that she owed him $2,000 and that he wanted his money.

Weiss said she called 911, but was told by a Carbon County dispatcher that no police were on duty at the time. Coaldale has been covered for the most part by state police after laying off its police department in February. Weiss said she then tried to call Yelito, who heads council's police committee. However, she said, his number has been changed, and she could not reach him.

Weiss said she then called Corkery, who, as mayor, is in charge of police. She said that Corkery returned her call, and she told him that having state police patrol the town was "not working."

Corkery told her there would "never, ever be a police department in this town like there was before. Never, ever," she said.

Weiss said Corkery also told her that "the people of Coaldale, they hate me now. Well, they are really going to hate me when I get back up there."

"Those are his honest-to-God words," she said.

Weiss, the mother of police investigator Todd Weiss, said she believes Corkery "has a vendetta against the police department, and also against the people of Coaldale."

Yelito, who is Corkery's friend and supporter, disputed Weiss' account.

"When he called you back, I was there," he told Weiss. "He waited until I got there. He didn't say all those things you said. I know he said that people hate him, but he didn't say everything ... you're pontificating."

Weiss responded that Yelito was "totally lying."

Yelito then jabbed his finger at a reporter, saying she was the reason the people of Coaldale hated Corkery.

"Right here. What she was writing the whole time. That's why the people hate him. It's the print media," he said. "The print media did it."

Yelito was referring to print news that, in addition to television and radio reports, detailed the 28 charges of downloading child pornography with which Corkery is charged. He is awaiting trial.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Nesquehoning Police Chief Sean Smith, on six days between Feb. 15 and March 28, 2011, Corkery logged on to his computer at work at a Nesquehoning radio station, searched for teenage boys and downloaded 34 images of young men engaged in sexual acts, 28 of whom were determined to be teenagers.

Police began an investigation on April 6, sparked by an anonymous letter asking police to look into allegations of child pornography involving Corkery. On May 4, 2011, station owner Chris Fulmer confirmed to Smith that Corkery was fired for looking at child pornography on the job. A forensic examination of the computer by 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.

Dr. Thomas Novinger, medical director of health services and medical informatics at Geisinger Health Plan, 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.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Yelito went on to quote President Judge Roger Nanovic as saying at a Sept. 23 hearing held to determine whether Corkery had violated the terms of his bail agreement, 'what do you want from this man. what does the commonwealth want from this man? He should not be in jail' You must release him immediately'."

At that hearing, Nanovic determined that Corkery had violated conditions of his bail after Corkery admitted to twice being around a child.

"There is no question in the court's mind there was a violation," Nanovic said at the hearing. He ordered Corkery placed on home electronic monitoring as of the following Monday.

Corkery did not return a telephone message seeking comment early Wednesday.

Corkery has not attended public council meetings since the charges were filed. In an Aug. 9 letter to council, he 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."

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