Tax Evasion Defendant Al Hughes Seeks To Interview Jailed Banker
Scranton funeral director Al T. Hughes can call a jailed banker who alerted authorities to suspicious activity in Hughes’ account as a witness during trial on his tax evasion charges, a federal judge ruled.
Hughes’ attorney, Christopher B. Jones,was granted permission to call Sean Jelen, the former chief executive officer at Valor Credit Union in Scranton sentenced in January to more than five years in federal prison for bank fraud.
Hughes, a key witness in the 2011 corruption trial of former Lackawanna County Commissioners Robert Cordaro and A.J. Munchak, is awaiting trial on several counts of tax evasion and filing a false tax return.
Federal prosecutors say Hughes is associated with several funeral homes, including two he operates with another person. From 2009 to 2014, Hughes deposited hundreds of customer checks into his personal account for his own benefit without the knowledge of the funeral homes’ co-owner. The scheme netted Hughes about $1.25 million, but he reported income of just $268,164.
Jelen was charged in June 2016 with embezzling about $718,000 from Valor Credit Union. He pleaded guilty in July 2016 to bank fraud and attempted bank fraud. He is now serving his sentence at the Federal Medical Center Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts.
In a motion filed earlier this month, Jones sought court permission to interview Jelen, who tipped off federal authorities about suspicious activity in an account Hughes held at the bank, which is now known as Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed.
Jones contends Jelen is an important witness because during an earlier, informal interview Jelen provided Jones information that “does not support” the government’s allegations against Hughes. He sought permission to take Jelen’s deposition under oath.
Senior U.S. District Judge James Munley recently denied the motion, but agreed to allow Jones to call Jelen as a witness at Hughes’ trial.
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