Lackawanna County Human Trafficking:

Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse is linked to a former Avoca pub whose clientele are being questioned relative to a federal grand jury investigation into money laundering and drug trafficking.

Several reliable sources, two of whom are close to the investigation, said Barrasse used the name ‘Michael O’Malley’ whenever he visited Lavelle’s Pub. The pub was shut down in December 1997 following a joint federal and state grand jury investigation linking the pub to a major cocaine operation in upper Luzerne and lower Lackawanna counties.

Twenty people were charged, including the pub’s owner Thomas Lavelle, in 1998 for their role in the cocaine ring. A source said there was a reason why Lavelle was one of the last suspects to be charged and sentenced from the group but declined to go into further detail.

Barrasse made his way to Lavelle’s Pub because he was a member of a dart league, a source said. He got to know the people who were involved in the cocaine operation, the source said.

Barrasse is now a Lackawanna County judge who won the disputed seat in 1999. He is on vacation and could not be reached for comment at either his Moosic residence or the Lackawanna County Courthouse after repeated attempts.

Barrasse’s law clerk, Karl Lynott, did not return a message seeking comment.

A convicted cocaine ring leader who operated from Lavelle’s Pub, several sources said, was questioned by federal authorities from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Division and the Northeastern Organized Crime Unit. The questions focused on what knowledge the ring leader had about money laundering and others who purchased cocaine, including if Barrasse is involved.

The source said Lavelle’s Pub was not involved in the laundering of money, but is connected to the federal grand jury investigation because of the pub’s clientele.

“What happened at Lavelle’s is producing what we are seeing now,” a source close to the investigation said. The source continued to explain that the investigation has “definitely expanded” because of the information they “stumbled upon” at Lavelle’s Pub.

Prostitutes from escort services operated by alleged pimp Al Carpinet Jr., were used to entertain the clients at a Pittston Township hotel. Carpinet Jr.’s cocaine supplier was one of the 20 people arrested who operated from Lavelle’s Pub.

At least three persons who sold cocaine at Lavelle’s Pub are continuing to sell the drug at night clubs in Kingston and Plains Township. One of the suspects is known as ‘Fast Eddie,’ a source said, and two of them were legislative aides at one time.

The third person is related to two of the three persons who received target letters of the federal grand jury investigation.

The federal grand jury began hearing testimony earlier this year in Harrisburg about a year after the IRS in Harrisburg received information about the alleged scheme, a source close to the investigation said. The same source said the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Scranton failed to investigate for several years because of the Barrasse connection.

“They’ll probably end up retiring when this comes to an end,” said a source about two FBI special agents based in Scranton.

The records the FBI had on the case were transferred to Attorney Gordon Zubrod in Harrisburg at the request of the IRS, the source said.

On May 31, the IRS along with U.S. Postal Inspectors and state police raided and seized records from the homes of Thomas Joseph, Fairview Township; Samuel Marranca in Forty Fort; reputed La Cosa Nostra crime boss William D’Elia in Hughestown; and Jeanne Stanton in Fairview Township.

Joseph’s business, Acumark Inc., a direct mail and telemarketing firm in Pittston, was searched and records were seized, as was an office at 1303 Wyoming Ave., Exeter, where records of the now defunct weekly newspaper, The Metro, were said to be found on May 31.

Investigators originally believed $650,000 was laundered through The Metro, formerly owned by Joseph. But, when records were seized, a source close to the investigation said it looks like nearly $3 million was laundered through the weekly paper from 1994 through 1998

Author: Delana Zakrzewski

I am saved by the most High God for others sins against me any sins against the Lord God Almighty, Whose Son Jesus, washed us all of our sin by His presuses blood and beat death, by walking out of the Tomb

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