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Musto Fondly Remembered

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.

7 comments

  • Bill D

    Loved or not, nice or not, good family or not, he did steal from the people of PA, and I’m sure we don’t know the half of it. He was fortunate enough to get caught near the end and to escape the truth that would have no doubt came out in court. I find it funny that people want to crucify certain people who take kickbacks and will allow others to slide by because they were “Good people” or “Raised a good family” Just saying! What makes a politician with his hand in the cookie jar any different than a Mob boss? Why s it so easy to forgive and deny when it is someone like Musto vs someone else? I’m not saying he did no good in Pa, I’m sure he did a lot of good too, and that shouldn’t be taken away from him for the bad he did but the bad should not be erased and forgotten either because of the good. It is what it is now, To hear people praising him and complaining about prosecutors and the government bringing a case against him is ridiculous! For every park he got funding for, every project, he most likely got some sort of kickback. That said, did he serve the people and do it for them or serve himself? WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  • ryan

    Why does WNEP insist on glorifying a crooked politician for his “good deeds”? It does not matter how many good deeds you do when you make the kind of transgressions he made. These people are elected to positions to represent the people of their district accordingly and he betrayed the public trust. As a society we are better off without people like him.

  • PaGig

    I’m sorry for the Senator’s family for their loss, but let’s not make him out as a saint. The way people are talking him up, I’m not shocked that Luzerne county government is so broken. Too many people seem willing to look the other way on corruption. Let’s have some accountability, people.

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