For years, Times-Tribune readers have seen a lot in our pages about businessman Bob Bolus and his criminal convictions.
The convictions can prevent him from serving in whatever office he runs for if voters elected him.
This seems like a good time for a history refresher course.
Get ready, this is a long post, based on our archived stories.
It all started in January 1991 when state police charged Bolus with illegally obtaining a 1984 Caterpillar track loader worth almost $147,000 and a truck tractor and a trailer that heavy machinery worth almost $52,000.
Someone stole both in June 1989 from a Flushing, N.Y., demolition company.
Mr. Bolus told investigators who raided his property in October 1990 that he towed the tractor-trailer to his property on East Drinker Street in Dunmore at the request of state police who called him.
He said a state trooper later brought along the truck driver, who told him to fix the tractor’s broken fuel pump. He ordered a new pump from an Ashley parts dealer, he told police.
State police said Mr. Bolus could not provide a bill for his services or keys to the truck. Police found no record of any state police calls to Mr. Bolus to tow the tractor-trailer and no record that he bought a pump from the Ashley parts dealer.
Police confiscated the tractor and trailer.
The day after the raid, police pulled over a truck hauling the track loader on Tigue Street in Dunmore and found the loader was stolen from the same business. The driver said Mr. Bolus told him to move the loader, according to arrest papers.
State police charged him with two counts each of receiving stolen property, theft by unlawful taking, theft of property lost, mislaid or delivered by mistake, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and one count each of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, criminal solicitation, unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles, hindering apprehension or prosecution and criminal conspiracy.
A county jury convicted him in September 1991 of two counts of receiving stolen property, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and criminal solicitation.
A judge sentenced Mr. Bolus to serve four months to two years in the county prison, which he served in a work-release program. He also had to pay court costs and $3,000 in fines.
The receiving stolen property counts were third-degree felonies, the tampering and solicitation charges were second-degree misdemeanors.
If Bolus never sought public office again, none of that would matter much by now.
Of course, you know Bob, he craves the spotlight.
In 2001, Bolus sought the Republican nomination for Scranton mayor. In a primary election, he defeated Bob Sheridan, a former city cop, 2,175 votes to 1,314.
Yes, that Bob Sheridan, now the city Democratic chairman, then the endorsed candidate of Barb Marinucci’s Greater Scranton City Republican Committee club. After losing to Bolus, Sheridan switched back to the Democrats and endorsed Councilman Chris Doherty, the Democratic nominee, who walloped Bolus.
That election marked the first time I reported on why Bolus can’t serve if elected. Before the election even happened, my first story said that Bolus can’t serve because of a 2000 state Supreme Court ruling that actually let another elected candidate serve.
In January 1994, the Berks County district attorney challenged the right to serve of a councilman elected in Birdsboro Borough two months earlier.
The councilman had a criminal past. In August 1979, he pleaded guilty in neighboring Montgomery County to holding his girlfriend at gunpoint in a car for three hours.
The court called the councilman’s crime reprehensible, but said he couldn’t be removed from office because the charges against him weren’t felonies.
The ruling reconfirmed an 1842 state Supreme Court ruling that defined felonies as infamous crimes. Under the state constitution, someone convicted of an infamous crime may not serve in an elected office.
Bolus’ receiving stolen property convictions were felonies.
At the time, District Attorney Andy Jarbola agreed – Bolus could run but might not be able to serve.
Unhappy with Jarbola’s wavering and facing the possibility he couldn’t serve if he won, Bolus asked the state Commonwealth Court to settle the matter before he faced Doherty.
In October 2001, a Commonwealth Court judge ruled Bolus can’t serve if elected.
In the end, it didn’t matter because Doherty beat him.
In 2007, undaunted by the 2001 Commonwealth Court ruling that went against him, Bolus tried to run for Scranton City Council.
Jarbola went to court to remove Bolus from the primary election ballot. He argued partly that Bolus filed a candidate affidavit that said he was eligible to serve in the office. Bolus knew that was untrue, Judge Carmen Minora ruled, as he ordered Bolus removed from the ballot.
That’s the same argument two Republican voters are using to get him thrown off the mayoral election ballot this year. They claim Bolus lied on his affidavit that he could serve if elected. A panel of judge is expected to rule this week.
In 2009, Bolus tried another run for mayor.
Jarbola went to court to remove him from the primary election ballot, but a judge ruled the district attorney filed the challenge a day late and an appeals court judge upheld it.
Bolus lost anyway to Doherty, who won the Democratic nomination, and used write-in votes to win the Republican.
Bolus said that case, once and for all, cleared the way for him to run now.
He calls his convictions “a moot issue.”
He added to the convictions in March 2012. A county jury took 45 minutes to find him guilty of insurance fraud and theft by deception. Prosecutors charged him with trying to win a $38,000 insurance claim for an accident that minimally damaged a tow truck and a towed vehicle. More severe damage to the tow truck happened during an earlier accident, prosecutors charged.
After his conviction, Bolus, who for years has hosted a Christmas dinner for the lonely, said he was “done” with the area.
“No more doing anything for the area,” said Bolus, who kept doing the dinner.
Judge Vito Geroulo sentenced Bolus to spend 6 to 23 months in the county prison, but released him after a month.
All Bolus’s appeals of the 1991 and 2012 convictions have failed, though he claims he’s going to court to undo them.
Twice convicted, Bolus persisted.
In 2017, he filed petitions for the Republican nomination for mayor.
Scranton Republicans Charlie Spano, his wife, Mary Rose, and Marinucci challenged Bolus’ nomination petitions in county court.
Before the challenge went to court, Bolus withdrew his petitions.
“I don’t have time for this,” he said.
Now, he’s back. Republicans picked Spano as their mayor candidate in August over Bolus and others. Former Republican mayor candidate Jim Mulligan and another voter challenged Bolus’ nomination papers in county court. As others did in Bolus’ 2007 council run, Mulligan argues Bolus lied on his candidate affidavit by saying he’s eligible to serve if elected.
Bolus says the court should at least let him run, pointing to Jarbola’s late 2009 filing. He says that let him stay on the ballot so the convictions are moot forever.
I’m betting the court throws him off the ballot, but either way, we probably haven’t heard the last of Bob Bolus.