Former Director of Marketing and Merchandising for PA-Liquor Control Board Pleads Guilty in Honest Services Fraud Scheme
HARRISBURG, PA—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that the former Director of Marketing and Merchandising for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PA-LCB) pled guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo to a scheme to defraud the state, its citizens and the PA-LCB of their right to his honest services as a public official through bribes, kick-backs and concealing information.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, James H. Short, Jr., age 50, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, admitted to the charge of Honest Services Mail Fraud. Short was indicted by a grand jury in August 2015.
Short served as the Director of Marketing and Merchandising from approximately 2003 to 2012 and supervised the process through which alcoholic beverages are selected and acquired for sale in Pennsylvania’s state-run liquor stores.
By pleading guilty Short admitted to approximately 10 years (2002 to 2012) of receiving benefits from a distributor and a manufacturer of alcoholic beverages sold in Pennsylvania’s stores. These benefits included all-expense paid golf trips, cash, gift cards, meals, and other benefits. As Director of Marketing and Merchandising for the PA-LCB, Short supervised the process of recommending to the PA-LCB which new products should be sold and which products should no longer be sold in Pennsylvania’s 500 state-run liquor stores.
No date has been scheduled yet for Short’s sentencing.
The case is part of a continuing investigation by the Harrisburg Office of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael A. Consiglio. The case initially was brought by the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission which found that Short violated the Pennsylvania Ethics act when he accepted certain things of value charged in the present federal case.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty for the offense is 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.