Convicted of failing to report sewer plant discharge:

Pennsylvania State Senator Slocum convicted, imprisoned and forced to resign

Thursday, May 11, 2000

By Peter Durantine

Senator William SlocumHARRISBURG -- Gov. Ridge said yesterday that state Sen. William Slocum, who was sentenced Tuesday to a month in prison for violating federal water pollution laws as a municipal official, should resign.

Ridge's stance put him at odds with Republican leaders in the Senate, who have stood by the first-term senator, and on the side of Democrats who have called for Slocum's resignation.

"I think, under the circumstances, I hope he looks at resigning at the earliest possible date," he said.

Ridge noted it was a personal decision but his preference was for the senator to resign because Slocum, R-Warren, had pleaded guilty.

Ridge had been cautious in previous comments about the string of state lawmakers who have been indicted, convicted or pleaded guilty to assorted charges in recent months.

In the case of former Rep. Frank Serafini, R-Lackawanna, who was convicted of perjury last year, he remained silent for months before finally suggesting in December that Serafini should "reconsider" his decision not to resign. Serafini resigned in January.

Ridge, a law-and-order campaigner, has drawn some criticism for his moderation toward convicted legislators.

In December, asked whether he felt "any kind of particular responsibility to do something or say something" about the indictments and convictions, Ridge said, "That's a very personal question.

"I believe it is of concern to all those who hold public office that there would be, first, allegations of the abuse of public trust, which there are a couple out there, and then potentially allegations turning into convictions. ... I think it should give everyone great concern whether you are elected or not."

The Senate Committee on Ethics and Official Conduct, chaired by Sen. David Brightbill, R-Lebanon, is scheduled to meet Monday for a second hearing on Slocum.

Slocum pleaded guilty in January to criminally negligent conduct that allowed discharge of 3.5 million gallons of sludge and sewage into a creek in the Allegheny River watershed that runs through Youngsville, where he was a borough official at the time.

His plea to lesser charges allowed him to avoid trial on felony charges of knowingly discharging untreated sewage and conspiring to file false plant operation reports with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

In addition to the jail time, Slocum must serve five months' home detention and seven months' probation and pay a $15,000 fine. Under home detention, he will be allowed to leave for work, but must wear an electronic monitoring device.