PAID NOT TO SPEAK, PART II
For U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, Silence is Golden
It took several months to get to the bottom of this, but it appears that national politics doomed my appearance at the Scranton Cultural Center to discuss The Quiet Don.
That's a big and surprising statement, but let's travel down the rabbit hole.
You'll recall back in May that the Lackawanna County Library System suddenly cancelled my June 23 appearance, and that was after they had already paid me (see post below). No reason was given, at least not one that made any sense. A number of disappointed readers emailed me over the following weeks, and one group asked if I'd be willing to come speak at a synagogue, Temple Hesed. I said yes, and an August date was selected. But after some reconsideration, Temple Hesed said no.
The folks trying to organize that event were left scratching their heads. So was I.
Given that some of the characters in The Quiet Don have close ties to the Diocese of Scranton, I wasn't surprised when two appearances at local churches last winter were cancelled. After all, that same Diocese was feted over the summer at a fundraiser at Mount Airy Casino. I'm told some 700 people paid big money to sit with Diocese officials and casino owner Louis DeNaples and be entertained by event host Father Joseph Sica (who referenced in his remarks his inclusion in The Quiet Don to loud laughter). I'm not sure why they were all yucking it up. I mean, is the arrest of a Catholic priest for lying about his mob ties really that funny? (Yes, the charges were later dropped, but I can't seem to forget some of the little details, like the police finding $1,000 in cash and a gun in Fr. Sica's apartment, or that he once filed for bankruptcy listing among his debts a $150,000 loan to Mr. DeNaples bank).
And is it just me, or does the idea of a Catholic diocese raising over $1 million at a casino fundraiser cross a moral line or two?
Getting back to the synagogue, it seems they didn't want to get involved in any of this, so they told the organizers thanks, but no thanks.
That was early August.
It was only over the last couple of weeks that the reasons behind the cancellations were made known to me. And they center on the race for Congress in the 10th District, and the reelection of Rep. Tom Marino.
Marino, you recall, was once the U.S. Attorney in Scranton and Harrisburg who was forced to resign in disgrace in 2007 when it was learned that he had provided a reference for Mr. DeNaples on his application for a gaming license. Sitting U.S. Attorney's aren't supposed to be providing references for gaming applications or for people with longstanding (alleged) mob ties, but that didn't stop Marino, who was rewarded by DeNaples for his efforts with a $250,000 a year job as an "in-house" counsel (yes, this is all in the book). He then ran for Congress in 2010 and, despite his tawdry tale, won handily.
I reference the Marino mess during my speaking engagements given the similarity to the relationship between Russell Bufalino and then-U.S. Rep. Dan Flood some 40 years ago. I discussed it at length during my presentations last spring at Penn State, Marywood University and in Wilkes Barre. The 10th District includes portions of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.
I cover Wall Street now, not politics, and didn't realize Marino was up for reelection in November. So I learned only recently that his very sensitive supporters not only took exception to the book, but to my mention of Marino during my appearances. So calls were made, and the event was cancelled. It was somewhat surprising given that Marino's foibles were discussed during the 2010 election. Resurrecting them apparently wasn't in the game plan.
As I say during my presentations, having a U.S. Congressman in your pocket is a nice pet to have.
Russell Bufalino had Dan Flood.
It's not hard to figure out who's holding the leash on Marino.
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