Ex-LCB chairman Stapleton resigns amid ethics probe

Patrick Stapleton.
Patrick Stapleton.
Posted: October 06, 2012

HARRISBURG - Patrick J. "P.J." Stapleton III, onetime chairman of the state Liquor Control Board, is resigning after 15 years on the board.

His exit comes as state ethics investigators look into allegations that he accepted inappropriate gifts and favors at the LCB.

Stapleton, whose term expires in November, wrote a one-sentence letter to Gov. Corbett on Thursday saying Friday would be his last day on the job. He told employees of his decision in a longer letter.

He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Corbett has said he wants changes at the oft-criticized liquor agency, and last week, he said he was nominating Philadelphia lawyer Ken Trujillo to replace Stapleton on the three-person board. Trujillo needs to be confirmed by the state Senate.

Stapleton has been under the microscope in recent months after a confidential report from the state Inspector General's Office alleged that he and two other LCB officials accepted gifts and favors from vendors and other businesses with an interest in liquor regulation.

The March report, a copy of which was obtained by The Inquirer, described Stapleton, LCB chief executive officer Joe Conti, and marketing director James Short as having accepted gifts, including wine and tickets to sporting events and golf tournaments, in 2011.

The state Ethics Commission has launched an inquiry into the allegations and has interviewed at least a half-dozen LCB employees. The commission is empowered to investigate possible violations of state ethics law.

In her office's report, Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner concluded that Stapleton, who chaired the LCB from 2007 until last year, accepted about $1,700 worth of alcohol from an LCB vendor for an event at the Hotel Hershey that he and his then-wife organized. The report said another LCB vendor lined up a celebrity chef for the event.

The report said that an LCB vendor also arranged golf outings for Stapleton - including a round with a pro during a tournament last summer.


Contact Angela Couloumbis

at 717-787-5934 or acouloumbis@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @AngelasInk.

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