Family, Friends Mourn Death Of Former DA Cohen
NANTICOKE - Family and friends are mourning the death of former Luzerne County District Attorney Jerome “Jerry” Cohen.
Cohen, 84, of Nanticoke, died unexpectedly Monday at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Twp.
An attorney since 1959, Cohen served several stints in the district attorney’s office, including twice being named first assistant. After then-District Attorney Correale Stevens was appointed to be a county judge in July 1991, Cohen was named district attorney and served in that role until Jan. 1992.
During his short tenure, his office was faced with one of Luzerne County’s most infamous crimes - the rat poison murder of Robert Curley, who died in September 1991.
Stevens, who was elected district attorney in 1987 after a political career, said he appointed Cohen as first assistant to bring a balance to the office that was dominated by rookie prosecutors, including himself.
“He was a tremendous asset to the office. He brought experiences and knowledge the office,” said Stevens, now a senior judge on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. “It worked out.”
Afterward, Cohen served as a private practice attorney based in Wilkes-Barre before retiring last year.
Stefanie Salavantis, the current district attorney, said Cohen helped pave her career path.
Her father, Harry, and Cohen were the best of friends.
“I grew up watching Jerry. He’s the reason I went to law school. I was always intrigued about what he did and how passionate he was about the law. He mentored me throughout the process,” Salavantis said.
Salavantis later did an internship in Cohen’s office and he was her sponsor to be admitted to the Luzerne County Bar Association.
The district attorney said Cohen, who often did free work for people who couldn’t pay, always recited a familiar quote to her: “You never go wrong doing the right thing.”
His daughter, Tracy Zabrenski, 46, of Nanticoke, shared a similar sentiment.
“He was not an attorney to make money. He was an attorney to help people,” she said.
Last year, Zabrenski tried to get her father to do a retirement story with local media. He declined.
“He didn’t want the recognition,” she said.
Funeral services will be conducted on Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Rosenberg Funeral Chapel, Inc. 348 S. River St. Wilkes-Barre. Interment will follow in Holche Yosher Cemetery, Lee Park Ave., Hanover Twp.
Shiva will be observed at 6 Kings Court, Nanticoke, Thursday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to Temple Israel, 236 S. River St., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18702 or Nanticoke Community Ambulance, 901 S. Hanover St., Nanticoke, Pa. 18634.