HARRISBURG - A priest and a former federal prosecutor who know Louis DeNaples appeared yesterday at the Dauphin County Courthouse, where the wealthy Northeastern Pennsylvania businessman is said to be a focus of a grand jury investigation.
The priest and the prosecutor, who won a felony no-contest plea from DeNaples in 1978, have both lent support to DeNaples over the last two years as he successfully sought a slot-machine license from state regulators.
The Rev. Joe Sica, who was escorted by another man into the courthouse through a back entrance yesterday morning, would not respond to a reporter's questions about whether he was there to testify before the grand jury.
Sal Cognetti, the ex-prosecutor who is now in private practice, went into the second-floor conference room where the grand jury was meeting. He would not say whether he was called as a witness or was representing a witness.
"I don't want to be impolite. I don't want to be rude, but I'm not going to talk," Cognetti told reporters.
A person familiar with the probe has told the Associated Press the grand jury was looking into information on DeNaples that grew out of a long state and federal investigation into alleged Scranton-area mobster William D'Elia.
As part of that investigation, authorities are looking into the accuracy of DeNaples' slots application, in which he told state regulators he had no connections to organized crime, the person said.
A spokesman for DeNaples declined to comment yesterday but has said DeNaples has no connection to organized crime.
D'Elia, who appeared before the Dauphin County grand jury last month, was indicted in 2006 on federal charges of money laundering and conspiring to kill a prosecution witness. D'Elia has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
DeNaples plans to open the $412 million Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Pocono Mountains on Oct. 15.