With less than two weeks to go before the April 24 primary, Luzerne County fired Director of Elections Leonard Piazza. Piazza disclosed his termination on his Facebook webpage before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, and county Solicitor Vito DeLuca confirmed a letter was delivered to Piazza at his home informing him of his termination. County Manager Robert Lawton suspended Piazza with pay after a disciplinary hearing April 5. Lawton and DeLuca have not provided a reason for the termination, claiming the decision is a private personnel matter. But the decision appears to be connected to Piazza’s attempt to audit the campaign finances of county Controller Walter L. Griffith Jr., who in December started reviewing Piazza’s attendance records as part of a payroll audit of 378 county employees.
Griffith said “Lenny was not coming into work” and failed to report time off, which inflated his accrued total for paid time off. Piazza didn’t return a call and email seeking comment Wednesday. Piazza said on his Facebook page, “Going out today to lawyer up and file for benefits.” On Tuesday, Piazza alleged DeLuca “illegally obstructed justice by halting an active investigation” into Griffith’s campaign finances, and DeLuca insisted “proper procedures were followed.”
Tom Pizano, the former county commissioner who now runs the clerk of courts office, has been appointed to run the elections bureau on an interim basis and met with bureau employees Wednesday afternoon. Pizano served as elections director from 1981 to 1993.