Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright Resigns After Federal Plea Deal on Corruption Charges

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright has entered into a plea agreement on three federal charges, including bribery, conspiracy, and attempt to obstruct commerce by extortion.

Courtright resigned Monday, according to a memo sent to members of Scranton City Council.

Minutes after Courtright filed his letter of resignation, city officials were in an emergency meeting discussing what comes next.

Newswatch 16 was there as that meeting ended. According to city rules, council president Pat Rogan will be acting mayor until council appoints someone to fill out the mayor's term.

"Went through what the parameters are in this situation. As council president, I'll be the acting mayor until a permanent mayor is chosen by council, so there won't be any changes to city services, to residents. Police are still going to be working. Our firehouse will be staffed. Garbage will be picked up, so the residents aren't going to see any change. We did have a good meeting with our solicitors, how it's spelled out in the home-rule charter, and then we'll take it from there," said councilman Pat Rogan.

Rumors started swirling about Courtright's possible resignation earlier this year when his office and home were both targeted in an FBI raid.

We now know Courtright plans to enter a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. He's facing charges of bribery, conspiracy, and attempt to obstruct commerce by extortion.

Courtright could see a lengthy prison sentence and may have to pay $750,000 in fines.

Court documents show that the alleged corruption stretched over the entirety of Courtright's five and a half years as mayor. Prosecutors claim Courtright received cash payments, campaign contributions, even landscaping work at his home from businesses looking to do work in the city.

Courtright's accused of keeping businesses from working in the city if they did not support him or his campaign.

Council member Wayne Evans says it's a sad day for the city.

“I know that if the mayor did something wrong, he'll face those charges and something will happen, and I'm sure justice will prevail but that doesn't mean that anyone should be happy about what happened here today,” said Evans. “It’s never happened before in the entire history of the city of Scranton and hopefully we can move beyond this.”

City Hall was somber after the news broke. Some employees were seen wiping tears from their eyes. Officials say despite it all, all departments will continue to function.

"I absolutely am proud of what we've accomplished in the last four years, five and a half, actually. At this point, I'm just letting the facts come out and develop as they're going to over the next coming weeks and I'll keep my personal feelings to myself," said city solicitor Jessica Eskra.

At the Glider Diner, city taxpayers were fed up with hearing about corrupt politicians.

“Our taxes are high enough. The money should be going somewhere to help us, not to just do what you want with it,” said Judy Naughton.

“It is very depressing, it is that,” said Naughton’s husband, Patrick. “We put the man there to lead, and he does anything but lead.”

U.S. Attorney David Freed says Courtright is expected in federal court Tuesday morning in Williamsport and that appearance will be followed up by a news conference in Scranton.

Courtright is the third current or former mayor from eastern Pennsylvania to plead guilty or be convicted of federal charges in the last 17 months. He joins the mayor of Allentown and the former mayor of Reading.

Courtright is a Scranton native, a life-long resident of the city's west side. He owned a karate school on South Main Avenue.

Courtright has a long history of public office in Scranton. He served on its city council for six years. While on council, he ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature in 2006. He was elected Scranton's tax collector in 2009 and served for four years before being elected to his first term as mayor in 2013. He was reelected in 2017.

42 comments

  • tacotacoyes

    Really need to start executing corrupt public officials. It’s really the only thing that might keep these scumbags in line.

  • John Smiths

    Now you know why this area is being invaded by non whites, big sign of the decline, I have got to leave the city of scranton, fast, haha. Lackawanna county is still ok though.

  • Jim hacky (@HackyJim)

    Now things are starting to make sense a friend seen him down the Mohegan sun a few times but he was never playing just standing behind a player I guess he thought if he didn’t touch the money he would have plausible deniability for that marked cash also I heard during his paving campaign a lot of his cronies got free driveways put in poor Scranton they need a republican mayor to make Scranton great again.

  • sassygirl58

    I worked in Scranton for many years, left about 15 years ago. I am sorry to say that the politicians were corrupt back then and continue to be so. I am sure there are some who truly want to help the city, but I don’t think it will ever happen. And Scranton is not the only city with corrupt politicians. It’s just noticed more because it is close knit community, everyone knows each other, and all are directly affected by the corruption. I feel for you!

  • John Graber

    Noticed the other 2 mayors that got into trouble (Reading and Allentown) were also Democrats.

  • John Graber

    Maybe it is about time the city of Scranton starts voting Republicans to these positions??? Beside the corruption there is a good chance it would help financially.

    • yabbadabbadude

      You’re wasting your time with that suggestion. The stupe-dummies in this area don’t know any better and they never will. Good democrats all.

  • nowiseenitall

    There is no stopping a runaway train. With all the corruption within the city government, I can’t see that city ever being turned around. The next guy in office will probably be in someone’s pocket anyways. I feel really bad for the good people left in scranton. It is truly heartbreaking to see what was once a beautiful, safe,thriving city destroyed.

  • wnepcommenter

    At what point will the state of Pennsylvania step in and realize that the city of Scranton is a complete failure and do something? You mean to tell me that the mayor did all of these things and nobody knew anything about it? Give me a break! I’m sure whoever the council puts in will be back to corruption before the end of the year..

  • Lloyd Russell

    “It’s never happened before in the entire history of the city of Scranton and hopefully we can move beyond this.” Well… i’m sure it’s happened before A LOT but no one was ever caught! Good luck Pat and the rest of the good people in city government. I hope you can get all of this straightened out!

  • franksorrentino100

    You got that girl pretending to be Sara Sanders lmfao and you got that narcissistic self centered mayor trying the self pity act he needs to go to the podium like a man and tell the people of the City Of Scranton instead of hiding stuff what don’t come out in the wash will come out in the rinse our firemen and police officers could use it despartly but he chose to selfenrich himself like the 70k +year wasn’t enough plus benefits he thought he had us fooled hes a manipulitive criminal bottom line he knew right from wrong.

    • savescrantonhistory

      Yeah. Let’s give the OVER paid city employees even MORE money besides their guaranteed yearly raises. I wish somebody with a big brass set would run on the platform of airing the contract negotiating sessions on Electric City TV LIVE as they happen to see exactly HOW greedy the public employee unions reps get in their sweetheart deals they always seem to get. I’d love to see any of these city employees go work for a private company and DEMAND yearly raises. They’d be laughed right out of the building. Only in Scranton could such nonsense happen.

      • savescrantonhistory

        Yeah….no. Maybe if we got cops out there doing WALKING beats instead of wasting THOUSANDS of dollars a year in gas costs to drive around patrolling. Of course we also need to crack down on the disability fakers like the one cop who got ‘hurt’ working for the city, only to go do the same kind of job for the county now while drawing down a disability pension from the city.

      • franksorrentino100

        I think our Police and Fire Department do a excellent job given what they have. They might be able to achieve more now with the selfish ex mayor gone…goodbye..

      • savescrantonhistory

        Given what they have? Some of our firefighters are making SIX figures and this is from a Times article from 2016. Sure. They go and risk their lives in the event of actual fires and the police risk their lives in the event of an actual dangerous situation.

        But most of the time we’re paying them to sit on their duffs. It’s why I mentioned that we should put a percentage of the police force on WALKING patrols with multiple police precincts throughout the city that they would report back to at shift’s end.

        Every city vehicle should have a GPS device attached to it that the public can even monitor. If X or Y city employee isn’t where they’re supposed to be then it should be reported and whoever isn’t doing their job is written up and FIRED if they goof off too much while on the job.

  • franksorrentino100

    Hell with the corruption of the mayor umm look at stacy that’ll make things better… Mmmhhmm…

  • Don Helowitz

    A typical city run by demorats! Keep up the great work! When will this area wale up!
    Ed Sereditch for President 2020!

    • Rusty Knyffe

      Luckily, the people INSIDE PA know that Scranton isn’t the “largest city” in the State………uh…………other than that……residents of Scroton are likely outraged and there’s little that will be done. A plea agreement? WHAT AN EFFING COWARD!!!! String that eff-tard up by his ………… yeah………..

  • Rick Sabetta

    Uncle Louie’s dump would be filled in days if they threw all the ALLEGED corrupt officials in NEPA in his dump.

    • franksorrentino100

      Hell with the corruption of the mayor umm look at stacy that’ll make things better… Mmmhhmm…

  • norman vincent

    Plea deal means he is guilty as sin and has thrown someone else under the bus to save himself.

Comments are closed.

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