Jury convicts Corkery
A Carbon County jury panel of eight men and four women deliberated about two hours and 50 minutes on Thursday afternoon before finding former Coaldale mayor Richard P. Corkery, 75, guilty of 27 counts of child pornography.
The panel apparently did not believe Corkery, who testified Thursday morning that he did not intentionally view child pornography on a computer he used at his former place of employment, radio station WLSH in Nesquehoning.
Corkery, of 249 Early Ave., Coaldale, showed little emotion when the jury's verdict was announced in the courtroom of Judge Steven R. Serfass, who presided.
Before Serfass determines the sentence, he ordered the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation report. A sentencing date has not been set.
Serfass also permitted Corkery to remain free on the $50,000 unsecured bail previously set by a district judge.
All 27 counts are felony threes, which carry a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison and a fine.
During the deliberation, the jury asked for clarification on the charges as well as the meaning of "beyond a reasonable doubt."
The panel also asked to review the police report. The report was not available.
The two-day trial ended late Thursday morning when defense attorney Nicholas Quinn completed his case. Quinn called nine witnesses, including Corkery; six were character witnesses.
Corkery, the first witness Thursday, denied all the allegations.
When Quinn asked if he ever intentionally viewed pornographic material of young boys, Corkery responded, "Absolutely not."
Corkery testified of his years of employment, mostly as an accountant, and his longtime involvement in youth programs.
He said he coached and directed youth programs throughout his life, and worked with young people at the Lighthouse Boys Club of Philadelphia, which was run by the United Fund.
Corkery admitted to using the computer in question at the radio station. He was there for two hours a day, Monday through Friday, hosting the program, "The Dutch Trader."
He said he had little knowledge of computer use and doesn't own one.
He said his only use of the computer was to clock in when he reported for work and also used it to read newspapers online before going on the air.
Corkery admitted searching for his former high school, Father Jude High School, in Philadelphia, and said that was when pornographic sites would pop up on the screen. When he first started to log onto the site he said there were no problems, but that changed.
He said he sought help in trying to stop the pop-ups from others at the station and said he never viewed any of the sites when they came up on screen.
He said when they first came up it was a "very disturbing site."
Corkery was questioned by station management on March 28, 2011, about the porn sites. He said the next day he was terminated. Earlier testimony indicated the sites appeared during the time frame of Feb. 15 to March 28, 2011.
He also said he did not seek to get his job back at the station because, "I worked two hours a day and got paid $7 an hour."
He also said he never saw the 27 photos of young males naked and in most cases performing sexual acts, which are the basis for the 27 criminals counts, until Quinn showed them to him on Monday when they were preparing for trial.
Under cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney William McDonald asked if he did anything about the problem with the Father Jude site. Corkery said he made some calls and then sent a letter on April 4, 2011, to the school concerning the disturbing images that were appearing on the computer when searching the school's website.
Also testifying were Francis and Cindy Hutta of Coaldale, who said Corkery had a close relationship with their youngest son and they trusted him fully to be with any of their children.
Character witnesses called were: attorney Richard Torpey of Toms River, New Jersey; Thomas Hare of Gladwyne; Gerald Blaney of Bensalem; David Knies of Malvern, and Joseph Keepsey and Uliser Corkery, both of Philadelphia.
All spoke of knowing Corkery for many years, some since childhood, and stressed his reputation for honesty and truthfulness in the community.
In his closing argument to the jury, Quinn said of the commonwealth's case, "There are holes in this case big enough to drive a truck through."
He argued that the commonwealth couldn't prove Corkery had used the pornographic sites found on the radio station's computer, stating anyone at the station could use the computer. He added, "There was more going on at that radio station than meets the eye."
He also questioned if the 27 photos presented were actual photos or computer generated photos.
He said the case by the prosecution was "all smoke and mirrors."
McDonald said the jury had to determine if the photos are of underage males having sexual contact as defined by the law; if the young males pictured are under the age of 18; and if the defendant intentionally and knowingly viewed the photos.
McDonald reminded the jury of Corkery's character witnesses who all said he would never be untruthful. He also reminded them to remember the testimony of FBI agent John Bates, who interviewed Corkery at his home in May 2011, and the defendant said to him, "All right, I did look at child porn sites. I did search for boy porn sites."
He said Corkery's story "flip-flopped" around which damages his creditability.
McDonald also reminded the jury that the computer search conducted by a state police expert noted that the porn sites stopped appearing after March 28, when Corkery was terminated. When the station manager, in the presence of police, searched Father Jude High School, no porn site popped up.
McDonald also said all the porn sites found had one thing in common, "boys, boys, boys."
The investigation of Corkery began when Nesquehoning Police Chief Sean Smith received an anonymous letter asking police to investigate Corkery and his use of the radio station computer to view porn sites.
Smith conducted the probe and received help from Bates and state police troopers who were qualified experts in examining and determining the use of computers.
Trooper Paul Iannace testified his examination of the computer hard drive resulted in "thousands" of porn sites being found. He testified none of them were there by accident or that there were no pop-ups.
Corkery was elected mayor of Coaldale in 2009. He did not seek re-election to the position in 2012.
The case took a long time coming through the criminal justice system with at least 22 continuances granted the case, most of them at the request of the defense.
When first arrested Corkery entered into a deal to plead to all 27 counts. He later filed a petition, through Quinn, to withdraw his plea, which was granted by Serfass after the commonwealth said it did not oppose the petition.
Corkery has a right to appeal the conviction.