And then there was Dunn.
Wilkes-Barre Area School Board meetings have developed an eerie sideshow: The seat with no body, a nameplate that designates an absence rather than identifying a person present. For two months the secretary calling roll has asked for “Brian Dunn” and received silence.
Since he was charged with corruption April 21, Dunn has remained on the board but never attended meetings. He has become the gorilla on the table, the albatross around the other members’ necks, a question mark the board can’t erase as it tries to rebuild trust.
Dunn has disappeared in a fog of silence, leaving others to face the public’s suspicions and disdain engendered by allegations against him. He is the only person charged in the corruption probe whose case has not budged.
Former county judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, the pair of pinheads who were first to be charged back in January, entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentence. Mind you, they are still free, with a sentencing date that keeps shifting, always hanging on the legal horizon.
And Ciavarella has shown serious chutzpah in trying to keep his pension. But at least they are off the bench and have conceded guilt.
Pittston Area School District Superintendent Ross Scarantino entered his guilty plea, though he apparently figures that shouldn’t rob him of position and pay. He submitted a resignation effective Aug. 3, and waits for his sentencing at home while the district gives him more than $400 a day, presumably to tide him over until his new prison digs are ready.
Former Court Administrator William Sharkey pleaded guilty, as did juvenile probation department official Sandra Brulo. Both await sentencing. Dunn’s former school board mate, Jim Height, actually resigned before he was charged, and was the quickest in the bunch to enter his guilty plea.
But Dunn remains at large, out of sight and still on the school board.
Maybe the man’s going to emerge like the proverbial rose in the dung heap (Dunng heap?). Maybe he’s cutting the craftiest deal of the disgraced bunch as he powwows with U.S. attorneys (a Dunn deal?). Maybe he’s just too stupid to resign from the board (a Dunnderhead), or too absent-minded (“I Dunn forgot!”)
He could be proving so useful in the investigation that he expects to get off with a slap on the wrist and a “You Dunn good!” Or he might be planning an epic exit worthy of Cecil B. DeMille, taking a defiant pose before the bench, the sun streaming in and lighting his perfectly coifed hair while the judge sonorously pronounces sentence and finishes with a flourish: “So let it be written, so let it be Dunn!”
There is something warped here. Dunn lost his state job automatically the day he was charged, but is allowed to keep the school board seat he allegedly used to make a profit by taking money in exchange for district jobs and contracts. It starts to feel as though justice is being … well … un-Dunn.
Everyone else snared in this web so far has pleaded guilty. Yet Dunn managed to get his first hearing, slated for May 20, pushed to June 18. Meanwhile, the school board sits under the shadow of a man who neither relinquishes nor fills his seat.
Dunn may end up being exonerated, sent away, or something in between. Whatever the outcome, it’s time for him to either show up at board meetings and speak, or resign.
As Ned Flanders would say on The Simpsons, Dunn should be “done diddley done!”