Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Breaking News: Controller Candidate Caught in 1993 "Prostitution Sting"

I was once told by a political consultant that before you decide to run for public office, you should “search your closet” for your “deepest, darkest skeleton,” and if you can live with that “skeleton” appearing on the front page of the newspaper, go ahead an place your name on the ballot. One of those skeletons has emerged from the closet of Luzerne County Republican Controller candidate Walter Griffith's closet in the form of a criminal citation for patronizing a prostitute in July of 1993.

We have afforded Griffith the opportunity to respond, and he has done so. His response is posted below.

Once you place your name on the ballot, everything becomes fair game. It is this very thing that deters many fine persons from ever seeking political office.

In this age of the twenty four hour news cycle, which includes anyone with a computer and the urge or will to blog, the public scrutiny of even candidates for minor offices has become intense. The public’s right to know has become great and, at some times, insatiable.

We do not take our obligations as bloggers lightly. We try our best not to engage in rumor or gossip, and we steer away from personal attacks and try to give an objective viewpoint based upon facts.

We consulted many a trusted friend today on the decision to post or not to post. Many asked us not to post this article because of its remoteness to present day and for the sake of Walter Griffith’s family. We struggled today with the decision, but decided the public is the ultimate arbitrator of whether or not Griffith’s actions 16 years ago are relevant to his ability to serve as Luzerne County Controller.

We strongly believe a public official or public office seeker’s family’s private lives are off limits, but we also strongly believe that the private actions of a public official or office seeker are fair game.

Harry Truman is famously quoted as saying, “if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” In the spirit of those words of wisdom, “if you don’t want your private life made public, don’t run for public office.”

We are not personally swayed or influenced in the least bit by remote and distant private actions of candidates for public office which do not directly affect that person’s ability to carry out the duties of the office which he or she seeks. People are human, and it is through mistakes and misdeeds that we learn. Squeaky clean politicians scare us, but not everyone thinks that way. Some look to the private actions of a politician, regardless of their remoteness, as an important indication of one’s public character.

We make no comment on the incident or Griffith's account of his actions that night. The public will be the ultimate judge.

Here is Griffith's account of the incident in his own words:

"The incident happened on July 16th 1993 on my 40th birthday and I went to the place on S Main St to pick up my sister in law to go out and have a few drinks to celebrate my birthday, because my wife was working and could not go with us. My sister in Law worked for an answering service in the building directly in front of where the "Sting Operation" was being performed.

While I was waiting outside of the building, I was asked by an undercover Policewoman, what I was doing there and I explained I was waiting for someone and then I was told to drive around the rear of the building and there I was arrested for soliciting a prostitute.

I appeared before Magistrate Collins and was found not guilty but paid a fine for loitering.

I apologized to my wife at the time and have asked God for forgiveness for this incident even though I, in my opinion, was not doing anything wrong, other than going to celebrate my 40th birthday and was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

This incident happened 16 years ago and I have changed my life and am a new person and that is what I am inside and outside."


Anonymous said...

Is this the same guy who has spent the last five years attacking every elected official in Luzerne County on their private lives? What comes around goes around. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Good for you Walter. Maybe this will knock you off that high horse.

Anonymous said...

The way I see it, he did nothing wrong, was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Low blow for you to post it. That was dirty!

Mayor Jim Haggerty said...

Dirty pool, Norton. This is not relevant to the question of who the best controller candidate is. It's also the kind of low-level politics we all should rise above.

I have tremendous respect for Walter Griffith for being publicly involved and for sticking his neck out as a candidate to serve the people. It's a shame he has to deal with stuff like this.

Walter, don't let lowest-common denominator crap like this deter you from being publicly involved. Our community is better for the work you do.

Norton, don't be a coward and hide behind the First Amendment. In the interests of issues-oriented, aspirational politics, take down this post.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mayor, just because you lack respect, what about Walter's family? You need to remove this post. Walter has done nothing but fight for people of this county.exenor

Anonymous said...

Something about this stinks. Dirt like this coming out so close to the election usually is tied to a nervous candidate. Until today, this election was being run on the issues and should have stayed that way. Walter, hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Walter, you should be ashamed of yourself! We all know what you were looking for that night. This issue goes directly to your character or lack of character.

Mary Jo Griffith said...

One Vote Counts:
I am appalled at your actions to publish this article. You have no idea who Walter is and for you to go public with this and cause undo pain to both him and his family is unacceptable. I do not know who you are and what part you play in this bitter contention towards Walter, but remember he has always worked hard on behalf of the tax payers of this county to include you and your family (if you are fortunate enough to have one).
What happened in the past is just where it stays. You obviously are not a parent or spouse, and if you are you would have given more consideration to the effects this plays on his family as well as him.
This has been a positive campaign for all involved to include Walter. Despite what negative opinions you have about him, he is kind and loving husband and father. He has done nothing to you and he does not deserve this. I can only hope to meet you someday to further discuss my feelings. I do not get involved with my husband and his politics, but you have crossed the line when it comes to our family. I am truly saddened by your actions. Please delete the posting.

Mary Jo Griffith

Thank You,
Mary Jo Giffith
Wife of Walter L. Griffith

Anonymous said...

It won't take Sherlock Holmes to identify the creep hiding behind "Norton". I'm sure it will shed some light on the motivation. TAKE DOWN THE POST!

JS said...

Don't shoot the messenger. This is already on public record. I don't see where Norton took a position in fact he said this type of stuff doesnt influence his vote in the least bit. Why are you hiding this Walter. If your totally innocent, then there's no problem here.

Zen said...

I had heard this story before. I decided not to post a similar story yesterday. While I doubt Walter's account of that night is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I do not see how it is relevant 16 years later. Further, I do not see how his actions that night have any bearing on how qualified he is to be controller.

I have written that I don't believe him to be qualified for the office he seeks and even written a snarky piece about him. But this type of dirt is best left under the rug and serves no purpose other to cause a decent man embarassment. Frankly, this is the type of campaign dirt that a club for growth candidate brings up.

I think we all deserve to know where you got the tip from to run this piece. I can take a well educated guess as only one candidate has already gone on a vicious attack in this race. I urge you to give up the candidate that is behind this. As bad as Walter's behavior may have been that night 16 years ago, this behavior is as bad or worse and the voters deserve to know.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it's over Walter .. Rather than everyone getting so upset with the blogger, how about understanding that this stuff would have surfaced sonmewhere..

Time to pack it in , try to avoid giving the party a black eye ..

whether or not the "excuse" is true is here nor there,, It does not sound good. The excuse sounds lame. The public will not believe it cannot win ..

You are a nice guy Walter. Do the right thing and step down ..

Anonymous said...

Everyone, take a deep breath. He was found NOT GUILTY. This is still America where people are innocent until proven guilty, if they ever are. Shame on you for posting that. This may backfire. People who are on the fence may support Walter now. Hang in there, Walter.

The Happy Hooker said...

Walter Walter...are you the same guy who has proc;aimed yourself as the man who will restore "integrity" in your radio ads? You and your supporters claim that this is a non-issue. Let me address that. Is it a non-issue in the same way that AJ Martinelli's DUI arrest was a non-issue? Oh wait that was different right? You seem to pick and choose the character flaws that matter based upon whether or not they involve YOU!!!

Also it directly indicts your media message currently being aired in your radio ads. YOU BROUGHT UP THE ISSUE OF INTEGRITY when you aired those ads.

I respect Jim Haggerty but he is way off here. I want the good Mayor to explain why Griffith can tout his good character but a journalist cannot print a truthful story.

Like a cross-examination in a court of opened the door for this question Walter. You can thank the media consultant you hired for that great radio ad.

Anonymous said...

You obviously think you know Walter.
Well you don't, and he won't step down. Sounds like an opponent is running scared of Walters popularity.Regardless of what happened 16 years ago, he is still a very qualified candidate for controller. You who think this will make him pack up and run away, wrong!
Guess again....

Dawg515 said...

I don't know Walter. All I know is he has lost campaigns in the past and has no chance of ever winning in the Fall. If the Republicans want to win this seat they better vote for one ofthe others.

He may be a good person but this story is true. Was he arrested?...answer...YES!!

The Happy Hooker said...

A little thin funny. This is the group that terrorized ecery elected official in the region and now they are worried about people hitting below the belt...(no pun intended Walter).

You were arrested...fact or fiction? Answer the question Walter....answer the question.

Even Steven said...

Let's try to remain calm over this.

The Griffith supporters are attacking Norton for posting a blog, without editorial comment, that is factually correct. What's wrong with that?

The Griffith detractors are attacking Walter for something minor that happened 16 years ago. Who cares?

This is in Shakespeare's words "much ado about nothing."

The Duke said...

This was a plea bargain. Judges don't find you guilty of a charge other than the one you are charged with unless you agree. Come clean, Griff.

You pled guilty to loitering to save face.

Anonymous said... many alter egos can "Norton" have. I was thinking of voting Palissery but now GRIFFITH will be getting my vote.

Bridges R Us said...

If anyone believes the Griff's story about what happened on that July nite in 1993, please contact me at 1 800 SUCKER, I have a couple of bridges for sale at bargain basement prices.

Giovanni said...

Walter has spent many years building an image that is "Holier than Thou" - he is the one who has consistently attacked the character and motives of others. A.J. Martinelli's DUI arrest - off with his head - Walter's prostitution arrest - oops do-over, doesn't matter I'm a taxpayer advocate.

His story does NOT even pass the laugh test. How effective will Walter be if he takes parking directions from prostitutes? Do we think he was going to discuss her responsibilities as a taxpayer?

Finally, was he arrested and did he plead guilty to something? If he was as innocent as a child why did he plead to anything and agree to a fine? Can you say plea bargain? This behavior is consistent, Walter is always innocent and is always the victim. It is time to withdraw from the public eye because your credibility is gone....

Also, we will NEVER hear about this on talk radio or in the newspapers because Walter is one of their favorites. Corbett and Sue Henry will never mention this, but look out if A.J. ever does anything again...they'll be all over it.

Nanda Palissery said...

Irresponsible journalism. There are no other words to describe what you have accomplished here today. As one of Walter's opponents I am appalled at the low level to which politics has sunk here in Luzerne County.
Is it any wonder why 'good people' don't involve themselves in politics? My motivation to run was purely that of intending to help the county through what is obviously a difficult time and as much as I'd like to win the support of the voters, I condemn the distribution of filth like this and would never have condoned such an article. No matter who wins the primary, he or she will garner my 100% support in the fall. In fact, I would offer to withdraw from any election in exchange for a promise that such things would not be printed about an opponent. We are a party, and that comes first. There is no room for personal attacks like this in this election and especially in this time of chaos and dishonor in the courthouse.
As you have know, there have been character attacks directed toward me recently by other candidates, and I would never deprive another of expressing his to his/her own opinion; but this serves no purpose. Being told that all attorneys in the courthouse have devious hearts, while hurtful and untrue, does not affect my family or personal life. This article potentialy does.
I agree with Mrs. Griffith: take it down, Norton.

Anonymous said...

Lighten up Palissery.

"irresponsible journalism" and "filth"

Norton didn't go through Walter's garbage or hire a PI to track his every move. He printed a newspaper article he stumbled upon.

A journalist is "a person who practices journalism, the gathering and dissemination of information about current events, trends, issues, and people while striving for viewpoints that aren't biased."

Seems to me that Norton just "gathered" and "disseminated" some "information."

I'm sure he would have done the same if he found information on any candidate, you included.

Anonymous said...

Wally - you little horn dog - hey - I think a guy who hangs out with hookers would do pretty well at the courthouse - where else can you find a bunch of dirty teasing poliical whores all in one place!
Hey - Wally - people who live in glass houses should not throw stones!!!!!

Anonymous said...

He was found NOT GUILTY, Mr. Anonymous Coward blogger.

Tim Grier said...

Where to begin…

You are a coward.

Walter was found Not Guilty. A sting operation by the W-B PD??!!?? Who have we had running the WB P-D over the past few years? Lets see... You have a W-B City Councilman who is a former W-B City Police Chief. Didn’t a couple shotguns belonging to the W-B PD go missing and get used in a murder during his time there? I think so. Was anyone found guilty of any improprieties? No. So, we have to let it go, and I don’t even put up that man's name, even though it damn sure stinks.

Who has been running the W-B PD for the last few years, the mayor’s brother-in-law? Yup. Any improprieties – you bet, but nothing that anyone with any clout has done anything about or probably will, as the federal investigation going on up there is pretty half-assed.

Any money go missing on some debit cards at Luzerne County? Yup. Was there an investigation? Yup. Anyone found guilty of any crimes? Unfortunately, no, but regardless of my opinion, the answer is no, so we have to move on, and I don’t mention any names.

Walter Griffith pled guilty to loitering, probably just to get out of that courtroom, because if there is one thing we know for sure, it’s that judges in Luzerne County are a rotten bunch. I know of a former Luzerne County DA, a Mayor of the county seat, and a Congressman up that way that have DONE FAR WORSE THAN LOITER. Maybe think about them for future smear campaigns.

If I still lived in Luzerne County – and I consider myself fortunate that is no longer the case – Walter would have my vote for any and every office he chose to run for.

C’mon put your name on this post, you coward. No? It figures, a coward crowing about someone found guilty of loitering by rotten judges in a corrupt city in a corrupt county.

Yes, you are most assuredly a hypocrite and an amoral coward, guilty as charged.

Tim Grier (my real name)

Anonymous said...

Hey Grier,

Doesn't look like Norton is crowing about anything. If you took more time to read Norton's blog than seeing how many times you could use the word "coward" in a comment, you'd see that Norton laid out quite a compelling case as to why he decided to post the news article.

It's a heck of a lot easier to shoot the messenger than address the issues.

Griffith wasn't found "not guilty." He worked out a plea bargain.

Fair is Fair said...

Hey Timmy
If Walter was cleared for his solicitation charge then I guess all those cleared in the debit card scandal are also free from ridicule. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Wingy said...

Anonymous said...
"He was found NOT GUILTY, Mr. Anonymous Coward blogger."

May 7, 2009 9:04 PM

Anybody other than me catch the irony in this comment? Hint: "anonymous"


Whaa Whaa said...

Tim Grier
Is he the guy who got his ass handed to him by Skrepenak over the bond deal?

Figures he and Walter are close...they aare both accustomed to losing.

And by the way...Palissery is a chump. Maybe he and Mrs. Griffith should have tea and cry over how badly they feel for poor Walter.

Palissery you should have just kept your mouth shut on the subject and you would have been better off.

Anonymous said...


The right of a free press is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights and in Article 1 §7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. However, this does not give people the right to say anything they want or newspapers the right to publish everything they want. Rights of defamed (slandered or libeled) persons are often held by the courts to be more important than other parties' freedom of speech and expression. Care must be taken so the publishing of the news and peoples' opinions do not violate the rights of others and give rise to a cause of action for libel.

Libel occurs when a false and defamatory statement is published which tends to harm a person's reputation or expose him or her to public hatred, contempt or ridicule. It is important to remember that defamation can be in many forms, including articles, headlines, advertising, letters to the editor, sports columns, drawings, opinions, outlines, and photographs.

Junior Dog said...

Anonymous 9:00am,

What exactly is false in Norton's post or any of the comments? Opinions are not true or false. They are opinions, which last time I checked is covered by the 1st Amendment.

Walter Griffith Jr. said...

Anonymous9:00 AM
The libel statement was
"One of those skeletons has emerged from the closet of Luzerne County Republican Controller candidate Walter Griffith's closet in the form of a criminal citation for patronizing a prostitute in July of 1993."
There was never a criminal citation ever made or filed against me and I was aquitted of the "Summary Offense" therefore this entire statement is Libel and John B is going to go down hard for his accusations. I suggest that John B take down the post immediately.

Anonymous said...

Walter, are you as big an idiot as your comment makes you out to be? All Norton did was reprint an article fom way back when. There is nothing libelous about that, moron.

You are an idiot. God help the county if you win, you imbecile.

William S. said...

Me thinks thou doth protest too much, Walter.

Johnny Cochran said...

Great new defense....the article printed on the blog is libel because it is false.

I would have stuck to the first story Walter.

It speaks for itself!!! You got a citation for soliciting a prostitute!!!

Anonymous said...

One of the qualifications of being Controller is an ability to read Walter. The newspaper article says you received a "citation for patronizing a prostitute." Guess you better sue the Citizens Voice too.

How bout letting John B see the paperwork. I'm sure you still have it.

Walter L Griffith Jr. said...

Dear Anonymous ETAL,
I wish you all were as smart as you think you are, and are as learned as you think. The Libel is not the article but the comment and opinion that the editor wrote you bunch of morons !!!! why dont you guys stop taking Bob S and John B' s defense and shut up. you have no clue of what you speak and are all welcome to come to see me face to face and look over the paperwork if you have the guts. you dont even have the guts to sign your real names. COWARDS ALL OF YOU !!! is that what the teaching of the church you go to teaches, to be a coward and not sign your names. Why dont you look at Judas Iscariot and what he did to Jesus.. you are all a bunch of phonies and fakes and I would just challange any of you to come here and speak to me face to face or even call me on the phone. I will even post my phone number and address: 735-5577 or 548 E Main St Nanticoke, if you have the guts,but you wont even sign your real name or verify the real person that is writing this blog. Cowards all of you. You all need prayer.

Dave said...


What exactly did Norton say that was libelous? You were "cited for patronizing a prostitute," were you not? And is that not a "criminal" act?

What did you think that paper was that the police gave to you or mailed to you --- a commendation? a certificate of merit? an invitation to the policemen's ball?

Norton never said you were convicted.

I hope you get better legal advice if you get elected.

Walter L Griffith Jr. said...

Hey Dave,
Whats the matter no guts to sign the letter. maybe you are the wonderful Dave Madera, the magnificent Dave Schooley or some other Coward that hides behind his anonymous shield of the First Amendment. Maybe you are a "Dave" from one of Bob Sypniewski's 16 children, after all this is his style!!! COWARD....Speak up and call me or stop by..and say hello if you have the guts.

Anonymous said...


What you should do is open up your phonebook, and start calling everyone named Dave. Once you find out who it is, then you can really show em'.

No need to thank me. The advice is free.


Anonymous said...

This is teh funniest series of comments I have ever read. Y'all are a bunch of idiots, but it's funny as shit.

Come on, let's keep it going. All of you are anonynmous and seething over who everyone is, this is fuckin' hilarious. Step back and take a breath, then go back and rad them all!! This is great! Keep up the good work Norton! What else do you have in your bag of tricks? Let's hear something about Palissery, Sypneski and "I plead the 5th" Brominski too!!
oooooh...I hear that Morgan has some really bad skeletons! LEt's bring in the Dems while we're at it.

BTW, did you all hear about Conahan and Ciavarella? They've been indicted!! Woo hoo!!! Is toole going down? Skrep? reilly? Someone should send this whole transcript to that Corbett idiot.

Guess what, I'm not signing my name either! This is like a costume party! Grab some tit, no one will know who you are!

Jack B. said...

I am totally amazed, amused and appalled with this line of comments. As a fellow republican, I believe it is necessary to know as much as possible about our candidates, and what kind of people will be handling the county in the future. It is very valuable to know if someone has committed a crime or has a less than stellar background, however, the caliber of person should also be based on their actions and attitudes that are evident now, not just in the past. Judging others based on something they did many years ago may not be fair given their actions today, however, if one claims to have no "skeletons" then that person should be taken down if in fact they have misrepresented their "good" name.

I also believe that one should not attack the character and abilities of another without knowing much about that person. Grow up and run an intelligent campaign! I know this is hard to believe, but all of the candidates are supposed to be mature adults, not second grade little girls snickering behind someone's back.

Jack B.

tony a. said...

Hey Jack:

What planet are you living on? We live in Luzerne County, the galactic hub for corruption and dishonesty. So Walter had a little mishap in the last century, who cares? I'm sure if someone looks hard enough at the rest of the candidates, they'll find some other juicy tidbits. Has anyone bothered to ask Bob S. why he is on the prowl for Palissery? Maybe he has some pent up hostilities because he is the 15th of 16 children. Ask Freud, or better yet, Dr. Frasier Crane.

Abe from Allentown said...

Walter, If all you did was illegally loiter, Why in the hell did you change your life, as you say in your version of what really happened?

Quote:"This incident happened 16 years ago and I have changed my life and am a new person and that is what I am inside and outside."

You are a new person, now that you don't loiter? You're a liar, and a bad one at that.

Also, what is your date of birth? Was the date in question really your 40th birthday, like you said in your response to Norton? I though you were born in 1954, Mr Controller wannabe. Good with numbers are you?

Lastly, read the pink box and the comments to follow at the following link:

It says it all about you Walter. You are an unprofessional whiner, just like your friend Grier. It's people like you that should NOT be in charge of any part of our government.

Sal from Scranton said...

Talk about cowards! You live on Simpson street, Wilkes-barre. Not main street Nanticoke.

Larry the Lawyer said...


If you're hanging your legal hat on the distinction between "criminal citation" and "summary citation" you will be laughed out of court. Summary offenses are "crimes." You can find them, in of all places, the "Crimes Code."

Norton reported a news story, and the fact that you don't like it doesn't make it a libelous action. Truth is an absolute defense, and nothing Norton posted was not true.

You were cited for "patronizing a prostitute. That was and still is a crime in Pennsylvania. That's Section 5902(e) of the Crimes Code.

The fact that you were found "not guilty" is irrelevant to the assertion that you were cited in the first place. By the way, O.J. Simpson was found "not guilty" too.

As far as being a "coward," it is you, not Norton, who lacks courage. Be a man. Admit you did something wrong, and we can all move on to the real issues in this campaign.

Being in "the wrong place at the wrong time" just doesn't cut it.

Louise the Loiterer (Reformed) said...

As a reformed loiterer myself, I don't think you're being honest Walter. I have never seen you at any of the meetings.

Anonymous said...

Im lovin it...Walter the prostitute solicitor...Good for You...I want a candidate who buys ass! I always thought that you were holier than thou, now I know you are just a perverted man. You never had my vote until now. Go Walter. I think that it is good that you support the workin woman.

Taxpayer said...

If you win as may never have to hire a solicitor

Another taxpayer said...

Walter knows everything. He's read the county code cover to cover. He can probably run the office all by himself.

Terry from W. Pittston said...

Walter's reaction to this is what stuns me. I sat on the sidelines and read each post.

Regardless of whether Norton should have posted this or not, the reaction of Griffith and his supporters is alarming. Is this the way he will react when confronted with a tough dilemma while in office.

We all know the following:
1. A citation was issued for solicitation of a prostitue
2. It was 16yrs ago and has no bearing on his capabilities as a potential controller.
3. An article was printed in a local newspaper which is plain to see.
4. Walter has attacked others for "personal mistakes" made outside of their job or work capacity.

The issue then becomes, is this hypocritical on his part. And although it doesn't mean he would be a bad controller, does it mean he applies a double standard?

Jack Benny said...

If the controller's job is really all about numbers, how can we vote for a guy who celebrates his 40th birthday on his 39th? Walter, by all accounts was born in 1954, so he would have been 39 at the time of this unfortunate incident. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, er. Luzerne County.

Your story doesn't add up, if you know what I mean. I should know, I've been 39 forever.

Terry (W. Pittston) said...

Today's post makes my decision much clearer. The birthday being off in Walter's story and his double standards are inexcusable.

And those emails were unprofessional to say the least. Will he react that way when he disagrees with Petrilla or Skrepenak?

We will never know because Walter will never win.