News Article - April 03, 2007

Consultant gets jail term for airport pay-to-play  
A Bryn Mawr business consultant caught in a pay-to-play scandal at Philadelphia International Airport was sentenced yesterday to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $25,000 in fines and restitution. Joseph Moderski, 70, was one of four defendants charged in the scheme, which involved illegally funneling political contributions to Mayor Street from an advertising company that was seeking contracts at the airport. The mayor was not charged with wrongdoing. All four pleaded guilty. Two cooperated with authorities.

   Moderski, described by a federal prosecutor as "the instigator" of the scheme, was the only defendant sentenced to prison. In urging a sentence within the 10- to 16-month sentencing guideline, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan L. Markman told U.S. District Judge James T. Giles that Moderski was guilty of more than fraud. "He corrupted the political process," she said.

   Dressed in black slacks and black shirt, and sporting his trademark thick, white Santa Claus-like beard, Moderski told Giles he was "deeply sorry" for what he had done. He was ordered to begin serving his sentence within 75 days.

   In addition, he was fined $15,000 and ordered to pay $10,833 in restitution and $300 in special court costs. Moderski, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud in the airport case, faces unrelated income-tax evasion and fraud charges in connection with the operation of his consulting firm, J.C. Moderski Inc.

   In the pay-to-play scheme, prosecutors alleged that Moderski orchestrated a plan in which his client, Sky Sites Inc., funneled illegal campaign contributions to the mayor. Sky Sites and its parent company, JCDecaux, specialize in back-lit advertising displays in airport terminals. At the time the illegal contributions were made, the company had an advertising contract at the airport and hoped to obtain others. It is illegal for corporations to make such contributions.

   The charges grew out of a broader political corruption investigation that included the bugging of Mayor Street's office and the eventual indictment of Ron White, a chief fund-raiser for Street, and former City Treasurer Corey Kemp. Prosecutors alleged that Moderski received a "sham bonus" of $10,000 from Sky Sites to cover one contribution he made to Street's campaign and that Moderski and two others split a $30,000 architectural "consultant fee" to cover $10,000 contributions they each made to a PAC run by White, who is now deceased. The contributions were made in 2000 and 2001.

   The three other defendants in the case, former Sky Sites executives Joseph Evans and Eric Selby and architect Terry Crockett, were also charged. Evans was sentenced to 51/2 months in a halfway house and 51/2 months of house arrest. Selby and Crockett, because of their cooperation, were sentenced to probation.

Source - Philadelphia Inquirer