Ex-prosecutor running for Congress changes story on reference for felon who sought casino OK

A former federal prosecutor running for Congress has dropped his claim that he had permission from the Justice Department to serve as a personal reference for a convicted felon seeking a casino license.

Republican Tom Marino asserted in an April radio interview that his superiors authorized him to act as a reference on a casino application submitted by businessman Louis DeNaples — at a time when Marino's office was investigating DeNaples.

Marino's account was called into doubt when The Associated Press reported Sept. 17 there was no documentation that Marino had permission from the Justice Department to vouch for DeNaples, a wealthy northeastern Pennsylvania businessman who had been convicted in a 1970s scheme to defraud the government of more than $500,000.

Marino now says he never asked for permission because he didn't need it. He told The Daily Item of Sunbury in a story published Tuesday that he was permitted to provide personal references as long as he didn't use his job title or attempt to promote staffers.

"I did it all the time," he said, according to the paper.

Campaign spokesman Jason Fitzgerald on Tuesday confirmed Marino's comments in the newspaper, but refused to make the candidate available to the AP, saying his "schedule will not permit" an interview.

Justice spokeswoman Jessica Smith, who confirmed last week that Marino never received the permission he claimed to have, declined immediate comment.

Democratic Rep. Chris Carney, whom Marino is trying to unseat in Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District, said through a spokesman Tuesday that Marino has been caught "spinning a tale of lies."

"It has become clear he will say anything to get elected," spokesman Josh Drobnyk said. "How can the public trust Tom Marino when he continues to insult them with so many lies?"

The controversy stems from Marino's April 28 appearance on WILK-AM radio host Steve Corbett's show, when he told Corbett that he had informed his Justice Department supervisors about the DeNaples reference.

Corbett has said that after the interview Marino's campaign manager, Dave Weber, told him that Marino would supply a letter from the Justice Department backing up the claim about the DeNaples reference.

Marino denied Corbett's account.

"The radio personality made it up. There is no letter," he told the Sunbury paper.

The paper said Corbett stands by his reporting.

Source: AP News

Mochila insert follows...