Deputy Named New County Coroner

March 16, 2019

Luzerne County Chief Deputy Coroner Daniel Hughes is now the county coroner.

County Manager David Pedri announced the promotion Friday. The county will pay Hughes $51,000 a year as county coroner.

Hughes has worked with the coroner’s office for 18 years, and he succeeds William Lisman. Lisman retired March 8 and had served as coroner since the county’s home rule form of government began in 2012.

Prior to home rule, coroner was an elected position in the county. Lisman served as the chief deputy coroner under the last elected coroner, John Corcoran, and started working in the coroner’s office in 1975.

The coroner’s office investigates the cause and manner of unnatural and suspicious deaths. There’s no requirement in Pennsylvania that a coroner be a doctor.

Only pathologists can perform autopsies, and the county pays for toxicology reports and autopsies as needed. After Luzerne County coroner George E. Hudock Jr. died in 2005, in the middle of his ninth term as coroner, the county added $60,000 to the coroner’s 2006 budget because Hudock was a forensic pathologist who performed autopsies at no additional cost.

The county has not had a forensic pathologist serve as coroner since Hudock’s death. Hughes has a funeral and cremation business in Wilkes-Barre.

According to a news release, Hughes plans to move to “a paperless system to enhance efficiency” and “revise the rules for solicitation of the deceased and insure ethics training for all employees and independent contractors.”

“I am optimistic about the future of Luzerne County’s Coroner’s Office with Dan Hughes in this position,” Pedri said in released statement.

Critics over the years have complained about part-time deputy coroners, who also work in the funeral business and get customers through coroner’s office work. Back in 2012, Lisman said using funeral directors as deputy coroners allowed the office to operate efficiently.

Lisman was a funeral director for the McLaughlin Funeral Home in Wilkes-Barre, and he insisted coroner’s office employees were instructed that it was not appropriate to use their county positions to get private funeral business.

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570-821-2073, @cvmikebuffer