News Column

Glodzik often denied involvement in ongoing W-B credit union scandal

August 28, 2014

By Bob Kalinowski, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.



Aug. 28--In multiple interviews earlier this year, towing contractor Leo Glodzik III denied any knowledge or involvement in the unfolding scandal at the Wilkes-Barre City Employees Federal Credit Union.

When told about rumblings that the FBI was investigating a questionable loan to a police officer that was secured with a vehicle identification number linked to him, Glodzik insisted he wasn't involved.

Glodzik noted anyone could obtain a VIN from any vehicle. He sensed it was implausible for someone to get a loan by just giving a VIN number without a title.

"If someone gave a loan that way, then that's illegal. Back in the day, banking was done by a handshake, but not today," Glodzik said on March 27. "It doesn't sound right. It would all come to a head at some point."

The alleged scheme did unravel last week as federal officials snared Glodzik and four others on bank fraud charges.

The Citizens' Voice withheld most of Glodzik's comments until the allegations against him were made public through indictments filed Aug. 21.

According to federal authorities, Tino Ninotti, while employed as a city cop, applied for and obtained a $25,086 loan on March 23, 2012 by falsely claiming he was using the cash to purchase a Dodge Ram truck.

Glodzik, the city's exclusive towing contractor at the time, supplied Ninotti with the vehicle identification number of the truck, knowing Ninotti was using it to post as false collateral, a grand jury indictment alleged.

After the loan was approved, the credit union never obtained the vehicle's title -- a practice that is common when loans are being paid on time, the credit union's solicitor previously said.

During one of the March interviews, Glodzik said he had no knowledge of any cops securing loans by using VIN numbers of vehicles linked to him.

"Even if they did do that, somebody should have contacted me or sent me a letter," Glodzik said.

The Citizens' Voice began calling Glodzik following the death of credit union director Jim Payne, who was found dead from a gunshot wound at his Bear Creek Township home March 10, the day before his scheduled testimony before a federal grand jury. Luzerne County Coroner Bill Lisman ruled the death a suicide.

Glodzik, who had a checking account and credit card with the credit union, said he considered Payne a "friend of mine" and an "honorable guy." He said Payne never mentioned anything to him about any vehicle loans or titles.

"The thing is, I wasn't best friends with Jimmy, but at least he could have told me about titles if he thought I had them," Glodzik said. "He never asked me anything about it."

Glodzik, 43, and Ninotti, 35, are facing charges of bank fraud and conspiracy. Glodzik faces an additional charge of witness intimidation for allegedly trying to get Ninotti to "fabricate a false lawful explanation for unlawful conduct" regarding the banking fraud.

Ninotti retired from the police force in January on a disability claim.

Glodzik was Wilkes-Barre's exclusive towing contractor from April 2005 until he was suspended on May 31, 2013, after his arrest on theft charges. He was recently sentenced to three to 12 months in prison after being convicted of theft in May, but he remains free on bail as he appeals his conviction.

Luzerne County detectives charged Glodzik last year with pocketing $2,100 in bait money from a car during an FBIsting operation in January 2013 after a state trooper posing as a corrupt cop called him to tow away a supposed drug dealer's car.

Glodzik's tenure as the city's towing contractor was marred by allegations of price gouging and overbilling, prompting angry residents and city council to urge Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton to launch an internal review of his practices and terminate the contract.

At Glodzik's theft trial, his attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. said the FBI thought Glodzik had incriminating information of wrongdoing by high ranking city officials.

During the interviews earlier this year, Glodzik said the FBI thoroughly investigated his business practices and he thought he was cleared. He said they grilled him about his connections to powerful city officials.

"They did ask me about those people. They asked if I was paying them off," Glodzik said. "I made it very clear. Never did I give money to officers, or the mayor, or the chief."

bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2055, @cvbobkal

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(c)2014 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

Visit The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at citizensvoice.com

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Source: Citizens' Voice, The (Wilkes-Barre, PA)


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