Wednesday, March 22, 2006

City Council Member Will Retain Seat Until Sentencing on Corruption Charges

Philadelphia city councilman Rick Mariano was convicted of 18 of the 22 counts related to accepting over $30,000 from businesses and helping them win city contracts and other favors -- he was acquitted of two counts each of mail and wire fraud.  The judge ordered Mariano taken into custody immediately for a mental health examination, due to his behavior right before his indictment when he went to the observation deck of the Philadelphia City Hall in what some feared might be a suicide attempt.  Mariano remains in custody, and also remains on the city council.  Under state law, he is not required to resign until sentence is imposed, which will be at least three months from now, and possibly longer if the mental health exam takes a significant amount of time.  Mariano's attorney did inform the city council president that he resigned from his positions a chair of the Licenses and Inspections Committee and vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee, but will retain his position on the council and, more importantly, the $102,000 annual salary that comes with it.  Mariano's defense at trial was that the payments he received were loans due to financial difficulties, so he likely needs the salary, although that is not much justification for continuing on the city's payroll; Mayor Street, a long-time friend, called for his resignation.  Having an elected official who has been convicted of corruption for misuse of that office retain his position just to draw a salary certainly presents an odd picture.  A Philadelphia Inquirer article (here) discusses Mariano's conviction and position on the council. (ph)

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