Former Transportation Director Gets Prison Time

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The former transportation director for a school district in Lackawanna County will spend time behind bars for defrauding his old employer.

John Wansacz Junior was sentenced Wednesday morning for the federal ethics violation.

Wansacz will spend five months in federal prison for defrauding the Lakeland School Distrct in Lackawanna County.

The prison sentence came as a surprise to the Wansacz family. John Wansacz is the older brother of Lackawanna County Commissioner Jim Wansacz. John and his family members said repeatedly in court that John did not know he was doing anything wrong.

Wansacz was allowed to leave the federal courthouse in Scranton after his sentencing. He is scheduled to report to prison next month.

He left with his girlfriend, Kimberly Nemeth, by his side. It was their business relationship that lead to Wansacz's five month prison sentence.

Wansacz is the former transportation director for the Lakeland School District. He admitted that between 2005 and 2009 he offered busing contracts to his girlfriend's bus company.

Federal prosecutors found Wansacz got his hands on an extra $70,000 from the school district because of that contract.

"You think you're doing everything right. He had legal advice, he had people telling him it was okay, but turns out it wasn't okay," said Wansacz's attorney Ernie Preate.

Nemeth said in court she and Wansacz went ahead with the contract because there was no objection from the school district and Wansacz was unaware he had to report the extra income.

Nemeth said in court, "My contract was approved by the board members. John's position with the school and our relationship was never made a secret."

Other members of John Wansacz's famous family argued that he should only be put probation for the crime, but in the end, the judge settled on a short prison term of five months.

"He acknowledged he committed an ethics violation. He took responsibility, he cooperated with the government at every turn, and he paid all the money back. There's a lot to be said for doing all that. It shows what kind of character he is," Preate added.

In court today we learned that John Wansacz offered federal prosecutors information in two ongoing investigations to receive a shorter sentence, but prosecutors said Wednesday the information Wansacz provided didn't lead to anything.

Wansacz will start serving his prison term on June 13.