Former PLCB Official Charged in Kickback Scheme

Feds says James H. Short Jr. is expected to plead guilty.

liquorshelves-940x540

A former official with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has been charged in federal court with accepting gifts to decide which products appeared on state store shelves for a decade. James H. Short Jr, former director of marketing and merchandising for the PLCB, received “all-expense paid golf trips, cash, gift cards, meals, and other benefits” from companies, federal officials say.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for for the Middle District of Pennsylvania: “In February 2010, Short is alleged to have been taken by private jet on an all-expense paid golf outing to Bonita Bay, Florida with the purpose of influencing his decision to list a particular product for sale.  This trip, as well as a similar trip in December 2011, were part of an ongoing stream of benefits the vendor and manufacturer provided to Short to influence his decisions.  The specific mailing in the charge is correspondence Short allegedly caused to be sent to company A in February 2012 notifying the company of a PA-LCB decision approving the listing of the company’s products.” Short allegedly received improper benefits from 2002 to 2012.

The federal charges have long been a possibility, TribLive notes:  “In March 2014, the state Ethics Commission cited Short and two powerful LCB officials — former board Chairman Patrick “P.J.” Stapleton of Dauphin County and former Chief Executive Officer Joe Conti of Chester County — with violating ethics rules and the Liquor Code by accepting golf outings, lavish dinners and pricey bottles of wine from vendors and failing to list the gifts on their annual financial disclosure statements.”

Officials say the investigation is “continuing.”

Federal officials say Short is expected to plead guilty.  The maximum sentence on such charges is is 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.