Judge Not Ready to Accept Rosetti’s Plea Deal

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SCRANTON -- Fred Rosetti admitted today he used NEIU staff to do personal work around his house. And collected big bucks in un-used vacation time for days he actually took off.

But a judge had a lot of questions today, wondering if 12 to 18 months in prison is justice in this case.

The US Attorney’s office agreed to drop some charges and on a punishment if Fred Rosetti plead guilty Tuesday. Rosetti is the former executive director of the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit #19 in Lackawanna County.

After hearing evidence of how Rosetti stole from the NEIU, the judge today decided to accept Rosetti’s guilty plea but not the deal that went along with it.

Dr. Fred Rosetti left the federal courthouse in Scranton a guilty man. And for the first time since his arrest in February, spoke to Newswatch 16.

"I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge my absolutely wonderful family, my loyal and devoted friends for their continued support and prayers during this very difficult time for our family," Rosetti said.

Rosetti was scheduled to plead guilty to theft and mail fraud charges and sign off on a deal for his punishment. Attorneys reached that deal a few weeks ago.

But, in a twist, Judge Robert Mariani allowed Rosetti to plead but decided to hold off on approving the deal. The deal would have sent Rosetti to jail for 12-18 months and ordered him to pay a $120,000 fine.

Rosetti’s attorneys admit the plea deal is a far cry from the maximum sentence. But, say Rosetti’s real punishment is the loss of his hefty state employee pension.

"What if you worked 40 years to get a pension on retirement and planned accordingly and then it’s gone? It’s devastating," said attorney Bill DeStefano.

Rosetti admits he stole money from the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit in Archbald during his last 12 years there. The NEIU helps educate special needs children. While Rosetti was executive director, he used NEIU money and staff for personal benefit.

Federal prosecutors say about 50 NEIU employees would have been called as witnesses if the case had gone to trial.

One of Rosetti’s former employees, Frank Koczwara, sat in the courtroom.

“I called him 'Dr. Arrogance' because that’s how he presented himself, he felt like he was above reproach," Koczwara said.

Prosecutors said Tuesday in court that they had planned on Rosetti’s trial lasting at least a month.

Dr. Rosetti was notified by the state that his pension payments will stop this week. That’s a loss of $11,000 a month.

Rosetti remains on house arrest. He is expected back in court in January, that's when a judge will decide whether or not to accept the plea deal.