Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Former Scranton Police Officer Charged With Federal Bribery Violation

 SCRANTON- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Thomas McDonald, age 47, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was charged in a criminal information with a federal bribery violation.

According to Acting United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the information alleges that McDonald, while working as a police officer for the Scranton Police Department in April 2018, corruptly solicited for his own benefit, sex and sexual favors from Person #1, intending to be influenced in official actions of the Scranton Police Department and the City of Scranton.  

It is also alleged that McDonald’s related conduct also included felony bribery violations with respect to Persons #2 through #4.

“Law enforcement officers hold enormous power over the citizenry and we trust them to exercise that power ethically and with integrity,” stated Acting United states Attorney Bruce D. Brandler. “While most officers perform their duty in an exemplary fashion, we will not hesitate to prosecute those officers who break the law and undermine the administration of justice by engaging in the reprehensible behavior charged here. I want to thank all the law enforcement agents and the entire prosecution team for handling this sensitive matter professionally and expeditiously.” 

“The activities alleged today are a serious divergence from the oath Thomas McDonald took to faithfully serve and protect the city of Scranton,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “He betrayed the people of his community and all of us who wear a badge and believe no one is above the law. The FBI will continue to root out corrupt law enforcement officers, on behalf of the vast majority of officers who carry out their duties honestly and honorably.”

“The Pennsylvania State Police worked in collaboration with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure a thorough and comprehensive investigation,” said Major Randy Devine, commander of the Pennsylvania State Police Area III. “Corruption and bribery in any form are serious crimes. When public trust is violated by a municipal law enforcement agency, it is our duty to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”

“I am as appalled and disappointed by this tragedy today as I was the day I first learned that a former member of our force grossly abused his authority, committing vile, repulsive acts,” said Scranton’s Police Chief, Superintendent Leonard Namiotka. “Mr. McDonald must pay the price for his crimes, like anyone else. If there is a bright spot, it is that since she came into office last year, Mayor Cognetti’s uniformed services agenda has included making significant improvements to our department’s internal processes and communications.  Accomplishing that should go a long way towards providing earlier warning of issues like this going forward.  But what may be most important right now is for Scrantonians to know that McDonald’s actions are not at all representative of our well-trained, caring and dedicated police personnel, a group of men and women whose actions each and every day are proof that they live by the credo of protecting and serving our community.”

McDonald was terminated from his position as a Scranton Police Officer in June 2020. 

The case was investigated by the Scranton Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Public Corruption Task Force, which consists of members of the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and federal agents from the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Olshefski is prosecuting the case.

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 under federal law for this offense is ten 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.

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