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Elderly ex-state rep too frail to go to trial, attorneys say

Attorneys for former Pennsylvania state Sen. Raphael Musto told the federal judge overseeing the criminal bribery case against him say their client is in poor health and his mental abilities have deteriorated, making it difficult for him to participate in his own defense. At a hearing held at the Wilkes-Barre federal courthouse the morning of Oct. 24, they asked the judge to postpone the case indefinitely, saying the stress of a trial could kill Musto who is 84.

Musto served in Pennsylvania's State Senate from 1983 through 2010, when he retired. In November 2010, a federal grand jury indicted him on six counts of bribery and corruption. The charges accuse Musto of accepting more than $28,000 from a business and an individual in exchange for helping them obtain government funding and grants. Last week, prosecutors added new federal charges of accepting $2,000 from a city official for helping that city obtain loans from the state government.

Musto was present at the Oct. 24 hearing and answered the judge's questions, but his answers were brief. After Musto entered a not guilty plea, the judge denied the defense's motion to put off trial indefinitely in deference to Musto's health, but did postpone trial until Nov. 26. The defense attorneys argued that Musto suffers from a liver disease that leaves him bedridden several days a week and is now cognitively impaired. But the judge said the liver disease is stabilizing and that he would provide medical professionals in or near the courtroom for Musto's protection.

Source: Times Leader, "Musto pleads not guilty to new charges," Andrew M. Seder, Oct. 25, 2012

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