Employee Of The Luzerne County Correctional Facility Charged With Extortion And Tampering With A Witness
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that an employee of the Luzerne County Correctional Facility has been charged in a Criminal Information with violations of federal law.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, John Stachokus, age 41, of Plains Township, has been charged in a Criminal Information filed today in the United States District Court in Scranton, with extortion and tampering with a witness. It is alleged that the witness tampering charge is the result of Stachokus’ attempt to persuade a Government witness to offer false statements to federal law enforcement agents when asked about an investigation involving the extortion.
The Criminal Information further alleges that while acting in his official capacity as a corrections officer at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, Stachokus extorted money and other items of value from work release inmates in exchange for affording them special privileges and unauthorized furloughs. It is alleged that in addition to cash, one particular inmate also purchased cocaine for Stachokus in exchange for special favors. Stachokus allegedly engaged in such conduct beginning in November 2013 through February 2016.
The Criminal Information was filed pursuant to a plea agreement with Stachokus. The plea agreement is subject to approval by the court. No date has been scheduled as yet for the entry of Stachokus’ guilty plea.
The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.
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 guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute for the extortion charge is 20 years’ imprisonment. The witness tampering charge also carries a maximum term of 20 years’ imprisonment. Each charge carries a fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release following any period of incarceration. 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.