The reputed head of a Scranton crime family who has been linked to Mount Airy Casino Resort owner Louis DeNaples pleaded guilty Friday to witness tampering and conspiracy to launder money.
William D'Elia, 62, agreed to the plea after nearly two dozen other counts, including conspiracy to kill a witness, were dropped. His lawyer, James Swetz of Stroudsburg, wouldn't say whether D'Elia will cooperate with state and federal investigations of DeNaples as a result.
DeNaples told the state Gaming Control Board before receiving a slots license for Mount Airy that he only knew D'Elia, reputed to run the Bufalino crime family, as ''a guy from the neighborhood'' who shopped at his auto parts store.
But D'Elia later told a Dauphin County grand jury, according to the presentment, that he had a long-standing relationship with DeNaples. Swetz told The Morning Call in February that D'Elia's relationship with DeNaples spanned more than 30 years.
DeNaples, a wealthy Scranton area businessman, was charged with four counts of perjury in January for allegedly lying to the gaming board about his relationship with D'Elia and three other men. DeNaples, 67, has said he is innocent.
Kevin Feeley, a DeNaples spokesman, said D'Elia forms the basis of the government's case against DeNaples and accused D'Elia of lying.
''We've been expecting a plea ever since [D'Elia] appeared before the grand jury, and given the secrecy and sealing of records, it's not a surprise because he's the foundation of their case,'' Feeley said. ''But we know that [D'Elia] was lying to the grand jury and are prepared to deal with those facts when the time comes.''
D'Elia, of Hughestown, Luzerne County, will be sentenced in June in U.S. District Court in Scranton. He faces up to 30 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
He is the protege and former driver for late mob boss Russell Bufalino, who led his northeastern Pennsylvania crime family for decades until his death in 1994.
D'Elia gained control of the diminishing crime family after Bufalino's death, but had never been charged with a mob-related crime until May 2006, when he was charged with laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds. Five months later, he was charged with arranging to have a witness in the case killed.
D'Elia allegedly told an informant in August 2006 that he would give him photos of the witness, Frank Pavlico, who cooperated with prosecutors. Pavlico is serving a 10-month federal prison sentence for his role in the money laundering scheme.
Pavlico also testified last summer before the DeNaples grand jury.
D'Elia told the grand jury last summer that he had close ties to DeNaples as a friend and business associate. He said he frequently met with DeNaples at his private office at DeNaples Auto Parts in Dunmore, Lackawanna County, according to the presentment.
D'Elia also told the grand jury that DeNaples was a guest at the 1999 wedding of D'Elia's daughter, along with several reputed mobsters, including ''Skinny'' Joe Merlino, the imprisoned reputed head of Philadelphia's Bruno crime family, and the family's reputed acting boss, Joseph ''Uncle Joe'' Ligambi.
The gaming board suspended DeNaples' slots license after he was charged and placed Mount Airy, in Monroe County, under the control of a trustee, Anthony F. Ceddia.