PITTSTON – A Federal Judge’s order Monday, to send former State Senator Ray Musto to a hospital to evaluate his competence to stand trial is just the latest instance of thousands of taxpayer dollars to be spent on this case.
Musto’s schedule trial has been delayed eight times in the last three years, and during that period, he’s collected his state pension.
A Federal Grand Jury indicted Musto of Luzerne County on corruption charges just as he was retiring after 28 years in the Pennsylvania State Senate.
Since then he has collected almost $382,000 in pension payments. These payments that can only be stopped if he is either found guilty or pleads guilty.
In Pittston, where Musto`s district office was located, some former constituents believe Musto’s $10,600 monthly pension payment is enough motivation to keep delaying a trial.
“I think its just a stall tactic so he can collect his money,” said Henry Lukach of Wilkes-Barre.
“He should not be collecting anything,” added Marilyn Lukach.
“The chances are high, he’ll keep getting delays,” said Michael Domarasky of Pittston.
There`s another money matter surrounding Ray Musto. It involves a trip he is scheduled to make from the Pittston area to a facility where mental health professionals will evaluate whether or not he`s fit to stand trial.
“It is a very difficult existence,” said John Webster, the Director of National Prison and Sentencing Consultants based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Webster is a recognized expert on the federal prison system.
He said he expects Musto to be evaluated in a Federal Prison Hospital, most likely in either Devens, Massachusetts or Butner, North Carolina.
“He will have very limited contact with the outside world, at least in terms of phone calls. He might not even be able to make any phone calls during his stay,” said Webster.
After a hearing on Monday, a federal judge in Wilkes-Barre ruled that Musto is not mentally competent to stand trial. He ordered Musto to be evaluated for up to four months, which Webster estimates will cost $7,000 off the top.
But if 84 year old Musto gets sick during the evaluation period, those costs could multiply.
“God forbid, if he has a heart attack, or bypass surgery, that`s very, very expensive,” said Webster, “and the taxpayers will be paying for that.”