Poor Walter Griffith. He’s being sued for allegedly recording a CityVest official without his consent, and the verdict is already in.
Although Griffith denies the allegations, Luzerne County’s rookie district attorney Stephanie Salavantis has pretty much declared the maverick county controller guilty. Does anyone else feel that this inexperienced county official is one day going to find herself in trouble for not looking before she leaps?
“The bottom line is he broke the law,” the DA told The Citizens’ Voice while passing off the case to the state’s attorney general. Why again is Salavantis wasting the time of new Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who’s eyeing bigger fish to fry, like state Gov. Tom Corbett, when she said her own office’s investigation determined that Griffith recorded dozens of conversations without the parties’ consent?
And why doesn’t Walter remember doing so?
Maybe, like The CV’s headline screeched Tuesday morning, he’s “OUT OF CONTROL.”
CityVest honcho Y. Judd Shoval filed a civil suit against Griffith on Monday alleging his privacy was invaded, The Times Leader reported. We haven’t heard much from Mr. Shoval or the other principals of CityVest ever since the non-profit organization accepted $6 million from county taxpayers to restore the Hotel Sterling and to create jobs but then didn’t deliver the goods or pay back the loan. Things didn’t work out as they planned, and they would just like to walk away from it all, unscathed. Our problem, not theirs.
There seems to be some confusion regarding whether CityVest had to even pay back this loan, and someone needs to take a good, hard look at the loan documents. If they didn’t have to pay it back, we deserve to know who authorized that sweetheart deal.
It’s hard to believe that if he’s found guilty, Griffith, who’s gone after perceived wrongdoings with a vengeance, faces up to seven years in prison for each violation of the state’s wiretapping laws. That’s what Salavantis’ first assistant, Sam Sanguedolce, told the CV.
At least county council Chairman Tim McGinley is exercising caution before shooting from the hip. He said it’s “a little premature” to consider whether Griffith should resign.
Meanwhile, Griffith said he’s baffled by the whole thing, that he never illegally recorded anybody. ”It’s kind of confusing to me,” he told the TL. That makes two of us.
I guess we’ll find out soon enough whether any laws were broken. Griffith sounds pretty confident that he didn’t do anything wrong, but we have a DA who proclaimed unequivocally that he broke the law. Whom do we believe here?
Anyway, Griffith appears to be in some trouble, especially with the well-to-do Shoval nipping at his heels.
Perhaps when all is said and done, this may turn out to be a mere sideshow. What we really want to know is what the federal grand jury investigating CityVest and the Hotel Sterling debacle concludes, whether the organization is really off the hook for $6 million of taxpayers’ money and if we’ll ever be able to freely travel over the Market Street Bridge again.
- Betty Roccograndi