When Mike Manzo, former Chief of Staff to the House Democratic Leader, was sentenced to prison in 2012, prosecutor Frank Fina said Manzo had provided "a wealth of information" on other cases.
"In his own statement to the judge, Fina said Manzo had helped with a 'large number of investigations that have yet to be revealed… entirely separate from what the court has seen.'"
According to the Patriot-News, "The sentencing of Manzo, one-time chief of staff to former House Minority Leader Bill DeWeese, was delayed because he continued to be a key prosecution witness used by the state attorney general's office.
Manzo was "definitely at the tip of the spear in terms of cooperation," Fina said.
Fina would not elaborate. As the years went by and no new cases were brought against House Democrats, we often wondered just what the heck Fina meant.
Then we learned about Fina's botched sting operation targeting African-American members of the House. And then we learned that shortly after Manzo's sentencing, Fina urged then-Attorney General Linda Kelly to "expand the inquiry," in an effort to snare even more legislators.
Were these the investigations for which Manzo had provided "a wealth of information?" Did Manzo spend months telling prosecutors about the proclivities and foibles of House Democratic members in an effort to have them arrested, only to emerge from prison and secure employment lobbying those very members?
It seems obvious, given that the Office of Attorney General has brought no other cases against House Democrats since Manzo's sentencing.
When asked about the cases on which Manzo was cooperating, Fina said, "We don’t do these things for public notoriety. And we can’t effectively do them if there is public notoriety. The only way we can really do our job is if we do these investigations in secret in a very careful way.”
While Fina's "Bonusgate" investigation leaked like a sieve, he was incredibly concerned about secrecy in the Philly sting operation. In his memo to Kelly, he worried "the integrity of our secrecy efforts" may have been compromised. His concern over secrecy where Manzo is concerned - given his total lack of it during "Bonusgate" - points to a sting.
Kelly never acted on Fina's suggestion to expand the probe. Had she, it's likely that we'd have seen mugshots of at least a few current members of the House Democratic Caucus. Instead, Mike Manzo, a contract lobbyist, spends his days schmoozing the very legislators his cooperation might otherwise have landed in prison.
Several news organizations have filed a request to have records in the sting operation unsealed, a move supported by Attorney General Kathleen Kane. How will legislators react if they discover they were targeted by a prosecutor armed with the insider information Manzo provided?