County Official Charged with Illegally Recording Calls

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WILKES-BARRE -- Four days before the primary elections, the Luzerne County controller who is up for reelection now faces charges for illegally recording telephone calls.

The man known as Luzerne County's watchdog against fraud was hit Friday morning with felony wiretapping charges.

The attorney general's office filed three charges of intercepting communications against Griffith, the Luzerne County controller.

Walter Griffith and his attorney walked into an arraignment at a magistrate's office in Wilkes-Barre followed by agents with the state attorney general's office.

Griffith was released without having to post bail after he was charged with three felony counts of wiretapping.

"No comment, you guys. No comment!"

Court documents say investigators found digital audio recordings inside Griffith's office last July inside Penn Place.

The attorney general's office accused the county controller of illegally recording a conference call in July 2010 and the executive session of a Luzerne County retirement board meeting the following month. Investigators also accuse Griffith of recording a phone call in 2011 with Judd Shoval.

Shoval is the chairman of Citi Vest which took over control of the crumbling Hotel Sterling, set to be demolished this year.

The charges come just days before the primary election. Griffith is running for another four-year term as Luzerne County controller.

"The timing is obviously a little curious. we`ll leave that up to the good judgment of the people of Luzerne County and they`re allowed to make their own decision in regards to that," said Griffith's attorney mark Bufalino.

Luzerne County's solicitor says the county is not paying Griffith's lawyer in this criminal case.

Since he is an elected official, Griffith cannot be fired or suspended.

It's unclear if any county officials plan to ask the state House of Representatives to request impeachment which would be the only way to remove Griffith.