Ex-Scranton mayor pleads guilty to public corruption offenses

SCRANTON — Ex-Scranton Mayor William Courtright pleaded guilty Tuesday to three felony public corruption offenses, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Prior to entering his plea, the 61-year-old resigned from his position as mayor.

Courtright was charged with engaging in a multi-year conspiracy, in which he accepted cash payments from vendors doing business with the city in a pay-to-play scheme, said U.S. Attorney David Freed. He also committed offenses of attempted extortion under color of official right and through use of fear of economic harm.

“In this county, in this Commonwealth, in this country – our elected officials work for us,” U.S. Attorney Freed stated. “Not the other way around. Using public office for personal financial gain is a crime, plain and simple. All citizens, not just those of us in law enforcement, should demand that our public officials scrupulously follow the law. And when they do not, no matter how difficult the investigations may be, or how long they may take, the United States Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners will hold them to account. I want to commend the painstaking work of our partners at the FBI who have never wavered in their commitment to the citizens of this district. We are also grateful for the valuable assistance of IRS-Criminal Investigations and the Pennsylvania State Police. We will not rest in the fight against corruption.”

Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division, added, “Bill Courtright used the city of Scranton. He traded on his office in exchange for money and other valuable favors. He wielded his official powers for his own benefit, when he should’ve been focused on that of his community. The FBI will never stop seeking to bring to justice corrupt public officials who so badly betray the public trust. To that end, we and our partners at the Pennsylvania State Police and the IRS have launched a task force specifically to take on public corruption in the northeast Pennsylvania region. We’re working on behalf of the people, who expect — and deserve — honest services from all their elected officials.”

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