SCRANTON -- A former police chief from Lackawanna County who was arrested last year may not learn his sentence for another seven years because of an unusual plea deal that was set in motion Monday.
Former Scott Township Police Chief James Romano has come to the Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton five times this year expecting to be sentenced for hindering prosecution.
That sentencing had been delayed because of disagreements over his plea deal, which attorneys and the judge say is unusual.
It became official on Monday: James Romano may not be sentenced until after his 50th birthday.
Whenever we hear stories about public officials being charged with a crime, whether or not they'll get their public pension often comes into play. It was a concern for former Scott Township Police Chief James Romano
Romano was arrested for allegedly having sex with a witness set to testify against a teacher accused of sex with a student.
Romano pleaded no contest to one count of hindering prosecution, a misdemeanor. He agreed to resign and give up his career as a police officer.
But, he still wants his pension.
"We have not hidden the fact that that has been the primary issue. We wanted to preserve that pension for him because he had significant time as a law enforcement officer up to that point, the point that he was charged," said Romano's attorney Frank Ruggiero.
Romano's attorney says the problem is that they may not know for sure if Romano will get his pension from the state until he is eligible on his 50th birthday, seven years from now.
Since Romano's plea, now two judges have agreed to hold off on sentencing him until he knows for sure.
That means Romano's case stays open, he stays out on bail, and his case could still go to trial.
"It's unique, I think it's unique but I think this case is unique because of Romano's facts and, of course, the pension," Ruggiero added.
Lackawanna County President Judge Thomas Munley agreed to hold off on sentencing Romano until attorneys know for sure that he will receive his state pension after his 50th birthday.
Judge Munley said he had never heard of such a plea deal. It was originally crafted in front of a visiting judge who can no longer preside over the case.