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UNITED STATES v. YAROSH

May 4, 1978

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOHN YAROSH, et al., Defendants


The question before the Court is whether Yarosh, Veltri, Zawacki, Mazur, Luchetti, McGowan, Wilding and Halloran can be required to testify before a grand jury after they had all been duly granted immunity.

These men had been members of the School Board of the Mid Valley School District in Lackawanna County in this judicial district and all pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to extort money from vendors doing business with the School District and one count relating to an understatement of income tax.

They have now all served a jail sentence for these offenses and pursuant to a plea agreement all other counts in the indictments against these men have been dismissed.

 The Government is continuing an investigation of vendors who sold goods to the School District and seeks the testimony of these School Directors to determine if perjury were committed by vendors or others before the Grand Jury or in statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation officers.

 Counsel for the said School Directors object to their clients being called before the Grand Jury averring that part of the plea bargain they entered into when they pled guilty, was that they should not be required to so testify. The Government denies this.

 A hearing was held at which all of these Directors testified as did Michael C. Eberhardt, formerly with the Department of Justice in Washington and Sal Cognetti, Jr., Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

 After a detailed review of the transcript of the hearing and of the testimony taken at the time these parties entered their guilty pleas on September 12, 1977, the Court concludes that they may not withhold from the Grand Jury their testimony.

 The problem apparently arose during negotiations between counsel for Defendants and the attorneys representing the Government even before the indictments were filed.

 After indictment there were further plea negotiations which resulted in pleas by each Defendant to the two counts as earlier indicated.

 At the time the pleas were entered on September 12, 1977 the following colloquy took place between the Court and counsel when Yarosh entered his plea:

 
"Court: What is the plea bargain? You have not given it to me in writing?
 
Mr. Cognetti: No, Your Honor. The Government will dismiss the remaining counts.
 
Court: Is that the only plea bargain, Mr. Brown (defense counsel) ...

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