By David Singleton
Former Lackawanna County Commissioner A.J. Munchak wasted no time in appealing his conviction and sentence on federal public corruption charges.
Mr. Munchak’s attorneys, Lisa A. Mathewson and Christopher T. Powell, filed a notice of appeal in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, a day after Senior Judge A. Richard Caputo formally entered judgment and closed the case against Mr. Munchak and former Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro.
The filing shifts future action in the case to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
Judge Caputo on Jan. 30 sentenced Mr. Munchak to seven years in prison and Mr. Cordaro to 11 years for their convictions on charges of extorting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from county vendors while serving as the majority commissioners from 2004 to 2008.
Mr. Cordaro was imprisoned immediately, but Judge Caputo allowed Mr. Munchak to remain free until April 3 at 2 p.m. to deal with unspecified health issues.
Mr. Munchak’s two-page notice does not lay out the grounds for his appeal. They will be detailed in later filings.
Ms. Mathewson, who was retained by Mr. Munchak last month to assist with his appeal, said the notice simply puts the wheels in motion for the next steps in the appeal process.
After the appeals court receives a complete record of the trial and sentencing, it is expected to set a schedule for attorneys to file briefs.
Judge Caputo previously denied separate requests by Mr. Munchak and Mr. Cordaro for new trials.
At the trial in June, Mr. Cordaro was found guilty of 18 of 33 counts against him, including extortion, racketeering and money laundering. Mr. Munchak was convicted on eight of 21 counts, including extortion.
Mr. Cordaro was taken after sentencing to the Pike County Correctional Facility to await the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ designation of the prison where he will serve his sentence. As of late Wednesday afternoon, he had not been transferred to a federal facility, the bureau said.