Home Philadelphia Press Releases 2012 Former Pennsylvania State Senator Robert Mellow Sentenced in Federal Court

Former Pennsylvania State Senator Robert Mellow Sentenced in Federal Court

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 30, 2012
  • Middle District of Pennsylvania (717) 221-4482

HARRISBURG, PA—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that former Pennsylvania State Senator Robert Mellow was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Joel H. Slomsky to 16 months in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $40,000, and ordered to pay $79,806.17 in restitution. Mellow previously paid more than $31,000 in restitution for the federal tax charges.

At the conclusion of the five-hour sentencing hearing in Scranton, Mellow was ordered to surrender on January 15, 2013.

“Senator Mellow violated the public trust by orchestrating the misuse of public funds and resources for political purposes and benefit. At the same time, he took the position in public that he was following the law when, in fact, he was not. This was a terrible example and a sad betrayal of the people of northeastern Pennsylvania who he represented and the people of the state. The prosecution and the sentence that was imposed today by Judge Slomsky hopefully demonstrate that no one, including lawmakers, can be above the law,” said U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith.

In March 2012, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a criminal information charging, Mellow, 69, of Archbald, Pennsylvania, with conspiring with others between 2006 and 2010 to commit mail fraud in connection with a scheme and artifice to defraud the Pennsylvania Senate and to file a false federal income tax return.

Mellow pleaded guilty in May 2012 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to defraud the United States pursuant to a plea agreement with the government.

According to U.S. Attorney’s Office statements presented at the time of Mellow’s guilty plea and in connection with sentencing: During the time relevant to the criminal information, Mellow was a member of the Pennsylvania Senate, Senate Democratic Leader, and a member of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee and Caucus. Mellow was also, at various times, responsible for several Senate Democratic administrative offices including offices providing computer services, communications, and research. Mellow also supervised a staff in his Harrisburg senate office and at two district offices located in Peckville and Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania.

Mellow owed a duty to refrain from the improper use of Senate resources and staff to perform political fund-raising and campaign work and services for Mellow and for political causes and candidates he supported.

Mellow, in his capacity as a state senator and the Democratic Leader during 2006 through 2010, conspired with others to misuse the staff and resources of the Pennsylvania Senate for political fund-raising and campaign purposes.

As part of the scheme, Mellow caused and knowingly permitted, through willful blindness, the submission to the chief clerk of the senate of false job classification and reclassification forms and memos for senate staff who performed political fundraising and campaign work while being compensated by the senate.

Mellow conspired with others to misuse senate staff and resources to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for an organization known as the Friends of Bob Mellow and the Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee and to support political candidates and causes throughout Pennsylvania.

Mellow caused and permitted the U.S. mails to be used in furtherance of the scheme to defraud. The information cites as examples checks mailed by the Senate’s chief clerk’s office to pay for the rental of Mellow’s district offices in Peckville and Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania, both of which offices were allegedly used to perform political fundraising and campaign tasks; checks and paystubs for senate staffers who allegedly performed fund-raising and campaign work; and letters prepared and mailed by senate staff in connection with Friends of Bob Mellow fundraisers. In its sentencing memorandum, the government described letters, e-mails, and acts carried out by senate staff members related to political activities at Mellow’s direction or under his supervision including preliminary work in Mellow’s campaign for governor.

Mellow also conspired with others to file a false individual federal income tax return for the year 2008. The unreported income consisted of money paid to Mellow in connection with the sale of the Peckville property where Mellow’s district office was located.

The case was the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and FBI.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Francis P. Sempa and William S. Houser.