SCRANTON — A former educator was sentenced Tuesday in federal court.
Fred Rosetti was sentenced to 33 months in prison, ordered to pay a $30,200 fine as well as $137,000 restitution.
Rosetti was the head of N.E.I.U. 19, which helps school districts educate special needs children.
Fred Rosetti was told he has a month with his family before heading to federal prison for a total of 33 months. In that time, he’ll have to pay a $30,000 fine and pay $138,000 back to the N.E.I.U.
The man who now has Rosetti’s old job thinks Rosetti actually stole quadruple that amount, but the cost is greater to the agency’s reputation and to the credibility of its employees.
“The individuals who did know of, not aberrant, but illegal behavior, they chose not to put that forward because they were fearful for their job,” said Dr. Clarence Lamanna, N.E.I.U. 19 executive director.
Lamanna and the N.E.I.U 19 fiscal director described in court a culture of intimidation that Fred Rosetti created at the office in Archbald.
Prosecutors said for 12 years Rosetti threatened employees if they didn’t do his bidding, covering up Rosetti’s personal expenses and fake travel vouchers.
“It’s not going to be over. We’re going to have to continue to prove to our public that the confidence that they had in us is well spent and we deserve it. And I really don’t want to be known by virtue of the previous, former executive director. But, unfortunately, that’s our lot in life and we’re going to have to prove we’re much more than that,” Lamanna added.
In court, Judge Robert Mariani said: “Public employment is not a license to plunder the public treasury, or use employees as servants.”
Mariani is the same judge who rejected Rosetti’s plea deal last month that called for a lesser sentence. He instead gave Rosetti the maximum sentence for the theft and mail fraud charges he pleaded guilty to, a reflection of what Rosetti did, the judge said, and a reminder of how damaging public corruption can be.
Rosetti’s defense attorneys say it was an unfortunate end to what was a respected teaching career. They say when Rosetti was given power he couldn’t help but abuse it.
“Unfortunately, what happens when you get caught up in this process is that everyone is obviously focused on the criminal conduct but there are other sides to him,” said Terri Pawelski, Rosetti’s attorney.
“A lot of these guys seem to think they can take liberties with that power and pay themselves a little extra money, and this is probably the same type of thing,” said Rosetti’s attorney Bill Destefano.
Federal prosecutors said that Rosetti, while running N.E.I.U., failed to document vacation time, faked travel vouchers, and had N.E.I.U. employees do personal work for him, adding up to $138,000.
Rosetti is scheduled to surrender to authorities on April 4.