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Holding Cells Missing Without Explanation

SCRANTON — Lackawanna County is renovating the courthouse in Scranton again and a couple months ago, commissioners gave the go-ahead to use modular holding cells for prisoners to get the job done.

But now county officials discovered those holding cells are missing without an explanation as to how or why the are gone.

The Lackawanna County Courthouse sees its fair share of prisoners for court proceedings throughout the year and in an effort to make sure they are in court on time, county leaders agreed to install three holding cells that were presumed to be in storage.

Those holding cells for prisoners were removed some five years ago during a major renovation project at the courthouse in downtown Scranton.

Now, when the county went looking for them, they were gone.

“We believe the cells were discarded by the Cordaro/Munchak administration during the courthouse renovation project between 2006-2007,” said Lackawanna County spokesperson Joe D’Arienzo.

D’Arienzo is pointing to former commissioners A.J. Munchak and Robert Cordaro, both who are serving time in federal prison for corruption.

D’arienzo said the cells could have been sold for scrap metal, the county just doesn’t know.

He said the current commissioners, including Corey O’Brien who came into office in 2009, have no idea what happened to the cells.

“It would have been nice to have them, it would have been nice to know they’re there. It all predates us. We never knew a whole heck of a lot about this stuff.”

But the current commissioners gave the go-ahead back in September to use the cells at the courthouse, under the assumption the county still had them.

Now without them, the county will have to pay nearly $200,000 dollars more to install new modular cells at the courthouse.

“It’s an unfortunate situation because we had them, and now when we need them to do the renovation for the courts, they’re no where to be found,” added D’Arienzo.

The spokesman for Lackawanna County said the additional costs will be shared across departments including the need to hire two new corrections officers.

The county received the holding cells from the federal government more than a decade ago.


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