A number of public officials have fallen recently in the northeastern Pennsylvania federal corruption probe, but former Senator Bob Mellow is probably the most powerful to be charged.
He served four decades in Harrisburg and had a huge influence in Lackawanna County and in Harrisburg.
Mellow roamed the halls of the state capitol for 40 years. He was once one of the most powerful politicians in Pennsylvania.
He was elected in 1970 at 26 years old.
Mellow’s name is all over Lackawanna County. There is a park, Mellow Park in Peckville, a road, Senator Bob Mellow Drive in Jessup and even a theater, Mellow Theater at Lackawanna College.
One of the senator’s biggest accomplishments was bringing the Commonwealth Medical College to Scranton. He was known for funneling state dollars to his district for projects that helped make the med school possible.
All that became overshadowed in Senator Mellow’s final years.
A giant pig stood outside Mellow’s office in Peckville in 2009 when it became the center of a controversy after reports that the state was paying big bucks in rent for the building that was owned by his wife.
“I can’t go ahead and worry about what some people have said that are half truths or no truths at all,” Mellow said at the time.
He took a lot of criticism when he took a seat on the board of Blue cross while serving on an insurance committee in Harrisburg.
When asked how he responded to that, Mellow said, “I don’t worry about what my critics say.”
The most negative light fell on Mellow when federal agents raided his office in Peckville and home in Archbald almost two years ago.
They took boxes of documents saying only they were investigating reports of illegal activity involving the senator. His office issued a statement then saying the senator was confident that in 40 years in the Senate he had done nothing wrong.
That raid came only a few months after he announced he would not seek re-election.
“When things are tough economically, scrutiny is incredible. When things are good with the economy, then the other issues kind of hit the forefront,” Mellow said about all the scrutiny regarding his office when he announced his retirement.
Now there is a lot more than just scrutiny on Bob Mellow. He now faces serious charges in federal court.
On this day Mellow was hit with federal charges Newswatch 16 got mixed reaction from people at Mellow Park about the senator’s legacy now.
“Senator Mellow for many many years has done a lot for the community around here,” said John Zahradnik of Archbald. “You know I’m a firm believer in you’re innocent until proven guilty.”
“We’ve seen this over and over again and I think it’s awful. I can’t take any more. It’s just a shame to hear things like that,” said Lidia Fetfatzes of Scott Township.
Some people will likely see all the things named for Mellow differently now.
“It is disappointing but I hope this is cleared up and I hope justice is done,” Fetfatzes added.
When Senator Mellow retired in 2010 he said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Now, he may find himself spending time in federal prison.