PITTSTON — The death of former state senator Ray Musto of Luzerne County comes less than a month after he was released from a federal medical center in North Carolina where he was sent after a judge ruled he wasn’t competent to stand trial in a federal corruption case.
On this day that Ray Musto died, most people we talked with in the Pittston area only wanted to remember the good, and they said there’s a lot of it.
Musto’s life ended with federal corruption charges hanging over his legacy but today, those we spoke with wanted to talk about his four decades of service to the Pittston area and its surroundings.
It was an announcement at the Pittston Senior Center that quickly spread sadness through a place that was very familiar with Ray Musto.
Musto was a fixture throughout the Pittston area for more than 40 years, serving as state representative, U.S. congressman and then longtime state senator.
But at the senior center, he wasn’t just a politician, he and his wife were like members.
“Believe it or not, Senator Musto actually went on several bus trips with us, with the seniors,” said senior center director Connie Andrews. “He was very, very active here with the center and anything we needed, he was always there.”
“Ray was a down-to-earth guy. He was a regular Joe. He wasn’t a high hat like some of these other guys,” said Tom Kokianda of Avoca.
Through his many years in political office, Musto carried on the family tradition. His father James was a longtime state representative.
“He did a lot for the people in this area, he did. He comes from a good family,” said Tony Bianco of Pittston.
But Musto’s career ended with a federal indictment in 2010 with accusations that he accepted thousands of dollars in kickbacks.
A judge declared him too sick for trial and recently he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. Musto always maintained he was innocent.
“I didn’t believe it when I saw it on TV. I couldn’t believe it,” said Esther Jumper of Exeter. “I have no idea (if he’ll be remembered for the good that he did) but I know he did a lot for the people around here.”
And right now, many people are choosing to focus on that.
“As far as a man himself, I can’t say anything against the guy. I think he was great,” Kokianda added.
“I think the world of him. He’s a good friend of mine. Matter of fact, I’m going to his funeral,” Bianco said.
We haven’t received any information on funeral arrangements for Ray Musto. He was 85 years old when he passed away at home Thursday morning.