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JULY 18, 2010

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Marcellus Shale Northeastern Pennsylvania’s New Frontier
Anatomy sought
of Noxen’s by feds

By Dave Janoski
Staff Writer

In 1982, Pittston Area High

School graduate Rosemary
Sauter-Frett landed in the
sunny U.S. Virgin Islands and
established an accounting

firm on St. Thomas, one of
the four main islands in the
popular tourist mecca and a
favorite stop for Caribbean
cruise ships.
Over the next 28 years, she
the largest
fir m in the
U.S. territory,
branched out
into the res-
taurant busi-
ness and
g a i n e d a Sauter-Frett
perch in the islands’ business
But in February, Sauter-
Frett fled paradise with $2.5
million placed in her care by
her real estate customers,
investigators say, leaving
behind questions about her
role in a police corruption
case and an alleged murder-
for-hire plot aimed at her hus-
Joel Field, left, and Harry Traver, along with Doug Brody, took on much of the responsibility in forging an agreement with
Carrizo Oil & Gas for the mineral rights to about 8,500 acres in Noxen Township, Wyoming County.
Sauter-Frett, a graduate of

Community stays tight as companies come calling

Penn State Erie in her 50s
who is a mother of six, is the
subject of arrest warrants
By Patrick Sweet | Staff Writer issued by the Virgin Islands
Department of Justice and
NOXEN TWP. — Harry Traver the FBI.
and Doug Brody glanced at each “We believe that she has
other, stood up and followed their fled the jurisdiction of the U.S.
neighbor’s lead. Virgin Islands,” said FBI Spe-
“We didn’t drive all the way out cial Agent Harry Rodriguez,
here to make changes,” neighbor stationed in San Juan, Puerto
Joel Field reacted when Carrizo Oil Rico, about 40 miles west of
& Gas proposed amendments to the St. Thomas. “We are following
multi-million-dollar deal the three up some leads, but I can’t get
came to finalize. into any details of the investi-
Before the men made it very far, gation.”
the company reeled them back to Sauter-Frett’s excellent
the bargaining table at its Pitts- island adventure began to
burgh office and hammered out a sour last year when she
natural gas deal that includes the became embroiled in a series
mineral rights to roughly 8,500 of financial disputes with oth-
acres. er real estate agents, accord-
KRISTEN MULLEN / THE SUNDAY VOICE ing to published reports, and
The three men, willing to walk
away from a deal worth more than Cyclists pass the Whistle Pig Farm on Route 29 in Noxen Township. her name surfaced in a high-
$4 million with the potential to kin Patch, Field found himself profile police corruption case.
In December, Sauter-Frett
become much more than $40 mil-
lion, exemplify the roughly 135 fam-
Online: View a database of responsible for preserving the hopes
of his family, friends and neighbors was a witness in the trial of
ilies they represent.
They share the ideals of a com-
more than 6,000 gas leases in for a lucrative gas lease. The Noxen
Area Gas Group was born.
three men, including two Vir-
gin Islands police officers,
munity that came together and
protested the closing of its post
Luzerne, Lackawanna and “I kind of stood up and said,
‘Well, we ought to try this and we
accused of trying to extort
$5,000 from a maintenance
office on a bitter December morn- Wyoming counties at ought to try that,’ and everybody worker with one of her com-
ing. They embrace the camarade- said, ‘OK. Great. Go do that,’” the
rie of a community that answered 47-year-old farmer said. “… The The maintenance worker,
the call when its historic train responsibility was awesome.” Richard Motta, left a kilogram
station was threatened with Over a 2½-year span, those of fake cocaine in a car rented
demolition and raised funds to responsibilities included innumer- under Sauter-Frett’s name
“Ninety-five percent of the peo- A gas group is born
protect it. able hours of courthouse research, that was impounded by police
ple that signed live here,” Brody Residents gathered under the
So, when gas company landmen days studying the natural gas in a St. Thomas neighborhood
said. “I mean, this is our home … pavilion behind Noxen United
approached residents in rural Nox- industry and negotiating deals that in December 2008. A police
It’s been our group’s home for years Methodist Church to formulate
en Township, they demonstrated never succeeded. captain and sergeant, working
and generations in some cases. We their plan of action. Across the
perhaps their greatest skill: their with a civilian accomplice,
took our time and I think we did it street from his Whistle Pig Pump-
ability to unite. See NOXEN, page A9 sought $5,000 from Motta,
promising not to turn over the

Gas lease records at center of right-to-know controversy

fake cocaine, which they
claimed tested positive for
drugs, to federal narcotics
By Patrick Sweet | Staff Writer “My office staff, including myself, but would drive from Wilkes-Barre Recorder of Deeds office is required agents.
are not trained or familiar with to Tunkhannock if necessary to put to provide its records in the format Motta, who has multiple
Nobody in the Wyoming County loading information on a ‘flash the files on a disc or portable mem- it maintains them. Because the felony convictions, and Sau-
Recorder of Deeds Office is familiar drive’ as suggested by the request- ory card such as a flash drive. The office stores its records electroni- ter-Frett sought the help of
with e-mail or knows how to use a er,” Recorder of Deeds Dennis Mon- e-mail suggestion is ignored in the cally, it must provide them electron- the Virgin Islands police com-
flash drive. tross wrote in an affidavit in office’s response. ically. missioner, who referred them
At least, that is what the office response to the newspaper’s The newspaper requested the The office, though, doesn’t want to the FBI. Motta, 51, wore a
argues as it fights The Citizens’ appeal. records to update its online data- to lose the ability to charge for recording device in a meeting
Voice’s appeal for public records. The newspaper made its initial base of oil and gas leases for the paper copies and said it will fight with the three men in which
The newspaper has appealed the request on June 15. In a June 23 e- public. “tooth and nail” to protect its the $5,000 was exchanged,
office’s refusal to provide the news- mail to Wyoming County Solicitor Under the state Right-to-Know records. according to federal prosecu-
paper records of natural gas leases James Davis, the newspaper sug- law, the law that establishes the peo- See RECORDS, page A11 tors.
in an electronic format. gested the office e-mail the records ple’s rights to public records, the
See ON THE RUN, page A11


High 88º BRIDES D3 HOROSCOPE D5 SCHOOLS D2 Cap holds, but
for how long? A8 Sunday Voice
WB_VOICE/PAGES [A09] | 07/17/10 21:34 | SUPERIMPWB


Marcellus Shale Northeastern Pennsylvania’s New Frontier

A resident rides his lawnmower down Main Street in Noxen, Wyoming County. The town has a population of 926, according to 2005 U.S. Census data.

Staff photos by Kristen Mullen

The old Lehigh Valley Railroad train station re-

mains a relic of Noxen’s glory days. On Dec. 31,
1961, the tannery closed, the train stopped and
the town died, author Janet R. Schooley wrote in
‘Step by Step: Noxen’s History.’

The 113-year-old building now home to the Noxen Historical Community Center earned its place
on the Federal Registry of Historic places in 2006. It opened as a high school in 1902 and closed its
doors in 1976. In 1999, community members set up the Schenck Memorial Library inside. Two years
later residents voted to save the structure and begin a restoration project.

NOXEN: Royalties hinge

on natural gas production
dented life to Noxen’s econ-
FROM PAGE A1 Noxen's big deal omy that was once based on
He even traveled to Hous-
Negotiators for the Noxen Area Gas Group spent nearly 2 1/2 just more than a dozen
ton to market the land that
years putting together a mineral-rights deal with Carrizo far ms and a handful of
their farms, orchards and (Marcellus) LLC. About 130 families with 8, 500 acres of land
businesses have rested on small businesses.
joined the pact worth initially about $4.25
for generations. WYOMING million. Each received $500 per acre up front
“When the tannery left,
“We didn’t sign in the and will receive additional $4, 500 per acre everything left with it,”
end, but for quite a long plus 20 percent royalty if exploratory wells on Noxen resident Pearl Race
time we were dancing with group property yield strong gas production. said. “This was a booming
Detail town at one time.”
Chief,” Field said. “The
only reason we danced with LUZERNE Eaton So, when a gas company
Chief Oil and Gas was 29 comes and injects millions
because we did courthouse of dollars into a community
research that revealed they that has seen half a century
had a couple thousand acres pass by since its industrial
right contiguous to our backbone collapsed, resi-
Monroe 292 dents are more than excit-
Field didn’t realize exact- Northmoreland ed.
“I think it’s a wonderful
A view of St. Luke’s Reformation Lutheran Church
ly what he was getting him- and Bowmans Creek as seen from a lot adjacent
self into that day. He never Noxen thing,” Race said. “It’s got
to help financially; much to Main Street in Noxen.
thought he would have to 309
hunt down the estranged Perrins more taxes, much more landman Phillip Corey said, cerned with what might
brother of a neighboring WYOMING Lake money. … We’re going to to get an idea of what they’d unfold.
Catalpa finish paying our mortgage
family to gain his signature 415 find.
on their lease. LUZERNE 309 off.” “Based on what we see, it Undrinkable water?
Harveys Harveys
“It actually took a couple 29 Lake Carrizo paid each lessor looks OK,” Corey said. Noxen resident Viola
Lake Dallas $500 per acre up front with
months to find the brother “You’re trying to extrapo- Robbins, 72, has family in
Lake 415
in California,” Field said. an additional $4,500 and 20 late a picture with three Dimock Township, the post-
“They actually tracked him Dallas percent royalty if the com- data points, though, when er-child community for
Huntsville pany finds a decent supply
down through his union.” Reservoir Kingston what you really need is a environmental disasters
Just as much, Traver and of gas. hundred.” caused by natural gas drill-
Owned by organizer Noxen Acreage Block On the day of the signing, The uncertainty is why
Brody, the two men whom Joel Field ing. Thousands of gallons
Field called upon to help North area
Traver said, an elderly Carrizo didn’t pay the full of potentially carcinogenic
Sterling Farms, a woman who was having
organize the group, didn’t company owned by $5,000 per acre up front. The drilling fluid spilled just
think they would be study- the Sordoni family South area trouble getting by stepped company will drill two outside the town.
ing geology or helping to up to the table, leased her exploratory wells to test the “They can’t do nothing,”
cover a several thousand BOB SANCHUK / STAFF ARTIST roughly 1-acre property and area’s potential before cut- Robbins said. “(The gas
dollar attorney bill. took her check. Traver’s ting any more checks. company) brought them
wife, Dawn, offered to take
Two days after the group
signed the lease on July 10,
Online: View a database of her to the bank.
The Noxen group is split
into southern and northern
water for drinking and
Field, Traver and Brody sat more than 6,000 gas leases in The woman, Traver said, areas. Carrizo will drill one Toxic water forced Rob-
declined the offer. well in each area. If gas pro-
down with The Citizens’
Voice for an exclusive inter-
Luzerne, Lackawanna and “I want to keep it for a duction is strong in the
bins’ great-niece Andrea
Ely and her family to move
view about the experience. Wyoming counties at couple days just to look at north but not the south, back in with her parents.
It was a complete about-face it,” she said. Carrizo will only have to
for the tight-lipped trio who The possibility of a check pay northern landowners
“I’m against it,” Robbins
said. “Maybe it’s me. It
refused to jeopardize any more than 10 times the and vice versa. might be a different story if
part of the deal before it Field, with large glasses we first started out, was to amount they just received, Wooden stakes with neon I had lots of land for them
was done. and dirt beneath his finger- stick together as a family, as it seems, has most folks flags tied to the tops mark to drill on.”
nails from working in his a community,” Field contin- embracing the words of for- the location of the northern Still, many others have
Strength in numbers fields, drummed on the ued. mer Alaskan Gov. Sarah well in Field’s pumpkin faith that Carrizo won’t
Sitting at the wooden pic- table as he spoke about It’s not difficult to imag- Palin: “Drill, baby, drill.” patch. The Sordoni family’s make the same mistakes as
nic table behind Field’s working with the group. ine why the community massive Sterling Far ms Cabbot Oil and Gas did in
house not far from the barn “Getting up to speed on would unite so well. The And drill, they will property will play host to Dimock Township.
where the group held some (natural gas) and keeping tiny farming community “We want production,” the southern well. “We all own farms down
of its meetings, the three the people together was has struggled to strengthen Field said. “We’re not just The Sordoni property is through here,” Traver said.
men smiled, sharing stories always, I guess, our biggest its economy ever since out there to get the bonus one of a few properties “When these people say that
of their community that concern,” he said. Mosser Tanning Co. left money. The value in this directly abutting Harveys they are worried about the
was strong enough to stick “But the people stayed town in 1961. arrangement is in the roy- Lake. A provision in the water, they aren’t as wor-
together and financially together and that’s what The tannery employed alty.” lease prevents Carrizo from ried as these guys, because
benefit because of it — a made it happen,” Traver enough people to force the The problem is compa- drilling within 500 feet of that’s how they make their
nice check and thoughts of added. construction of a second nies aren’t quite sure the any structure or water living.”
vacations probably didn’t “Some of our principles hotel and a row of houses gas is there. Carrizo bought source.
hurt as well. in the very beginning, when nearby. It brought unprece- 2-D seismic data, senior Still, some folks are con-, 570-821-2117
WB_VOICE/PAGES [A11] | 07/17/10 22:52 | SUPERIMPWB

SUNDAY, JULY 18, 2010


RECORDS: ON THE RUN: Whereabouts unknown Man charged for shooting at cop
Appeal under FROM PAGE A1
During the corruption
The department has
interviewed Sauter-Frett’s
late on the reasons Mrs.
Sauter-Frett is on the run.
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Less than two days after a

the Thursday shooting of
Officer Kevin Livewell
remains in custody. Police
review by state trial, defense attor neys
argued the police were actu-
husband, who claimed not
to know her whereabouts,
Obviously she has some
q u e s t i o n abl e bu s i n e s s
police officer was wounded
when three men armed with
say he hasn’t been charged
and won’t release his name
ally investigating a murder- according to the Virgin practices and has had assault type weapons as they search for his two
FROM PAGE A1 for-hire conspiracy involv- Islands Daily News, a news- some ties to suspected peo- opened fire, a plainclothes accomplices. Livewell, 30,
“We have to protect our ing Sauter-Frett and Motta paper on St. Thomas, which, ple who have been convict- officer was fired upon in the was scheduled to undergo
records,” Nancy Kilmas, a aimed at Sauter-Frett’s hus- like The Citizens’ Voice, is ed of wrongdoing,” Leza- Hunting Park section early surgery over the weekend at
deputy in the recorder’s office, band, Jacob. The officers owned by Scranton-based ma said. “As to what her Saturday as he chased a Temple University Hospital
said after refusing to provide were only pretending to be Times-Shamrock Commu- motivation is, I can’t speak man on foot. for a wound to his right leg
the records on June 15. corrupt in order to gain nications. to that.” Saturday’s incident ended after he was shot in Kens-
A reporter attempted to Motta’s confidence, they Investigators estimate Sauter-Frett has several with a bare-chested man ington Thursday.
obtain the records in person. said. that $2.5 million is missing relatives, including at least arrested and charged with In the Saturday incident,
An employee with the record- Sauter-Frett was subpoe- from the escrow accounts, one sister, who live in the aggravated assault for Kevin Brown, 18, of the 1300
er’s office showed the reporter naed by the defense, but rul- according to department Pittston area. They either shooting at the officer and of W. Hunting Park Avenue,
a list of gas lease records on ings by the president judge spokeswoman Sara Leza- could not be reached or also for wounding a civilian. was in custody after police
her computer monitor, exactly barred them from fully pur- ma. declined comment. His shirt was snagged on an captured him at the inter-
what the newspaper request- suing the murder-for-hire The story took a new alley fence he clamored over section of 2700 block of
ed. When the reporter asked theory during her testimo- twist on July 3 when the
570-301-2178 during the pursuit. Albert Street in North Phil-
the employee to transfer the ny. The case ended in a mis- bullet-ridden body of the Meanwhile, a suspect in adelphia.
information to a flash drive, trial in December. civilian convicted in the
the employee refused, saying On Jan. 29, the defen- police corruption case, Lou-
the transfer violated office
policy. Montross would have
dants were convicted of
extortion in a second trial
is Roldan, was found in a
burning SUV in an aban- “Our family is full
to OK the transfer but was
out-of-town, she said.
in which Sauter-Frett did
not testify.
doned housing project on
St. Croix, one of the other of problems...”
A written request was filed. Just days later, two real- main islands in the U.S. Vir- (KINGSTON) - Hi! We are the Barnards. We all the fuss about! Are we glad we did? You
are Carolyn and Robert, and our son Danny. bet we are! After just a few visits we feel like
On June 21, Davis said in an tors in Sauter-Frett’s RE/ gin Islands. Roldan, 29, was We have had a lot of pain for a a million bucks. Carolyn had much less pain
e-mail that the office was enti- MAX Dream Properties real free on bail pending his sen- long time. It almost seems like it has been
since the beginning of time that we have had
in her hips, Robert stands up better and
Danny feels great all over. We get around
tled to an extension of the estate office filed suit seek- tencing. these problems. Robert has had lower back easier, we’re happier and we have great
pain and arthritis in his back. Carolyn has positive attitudes.
normal five business days ing to free ze escrow Lezama and FBI spokes- also had lower back pain but from a herniated If you want to increase your
disk. And our son, Danny, has had a dull ache potential & live a better life - perhaps without
allowed by law to respond to accounts controlled by Sau- man Rodriguez said they in his mid back that never seems to go away. sickness, without disease, and without
the request for records. ter-Frett. did not believe the Roldan We could hardly get around to
do much of anything. We couldn’t go for the
problems that rob you of life and all the
happiness that comes with being healthy -
“Under the open records The suit claimed she was killing had any link to Sau- The Barnards
groceries or do any kind of shopping because bring this article to Herman Chiropractic
the walking was unbearable. We felt like old Center, 569 Pierce St., Kingston and Dr. Jim
law section 902 (65 P.S. section using money from the ter-Frett’s disappearance. people just hobbling around. We were hardly will check you and your family for spinal
able to move. misalignments with no charge or obligation.
902), when legal review is nec- accounts, which contained Lezama said she couldn’t Then one evening we were
essary to determine whether deposits from customers, comment on whether Sau- reading the paper and saw a story about all
the great things going on at Herman
Call 288-5800 for a free same-
day appointment Today!
your request is subject to for her own use. ter-Frett might have been Chiropractic. So, we went on in to see what All insurance’s accepted!
access, the agency is entitled motivated to flee the Virgin
to 30 days to respond as to
At the same time, the St.
Thomas Board of Realtors Islands out of concern for
5 6 9 P i e rc e S t r e e t , K i n g s t o n - 288-5800
whether the request can be advised its members not to her own safety. Jim McDermott, D.C.
4 0 S o u t h M t n . B l v d . , M o u n t a i n To p - 474-9600
granted as stated,” Davis place money in Sauter- “I’m not going to specu-
wrote. Frett’s accounts because
In its response to the news- deposit checks had alleged-
paper’s appeal, Montross
retracted, though, and wrote:
ly gone missing.
By Feb. 5, the Virgin SIGNED.
“All records in the Wyoming
County Recorder of Deeds
Islands Department of Jus-
tice had filed an arrest war-
Office are considered public
records.” The admission
rant for Sauter-Frett, who DELIVERED. Smith Hourigan Group
could not be found, and
negated any need for the ini- centur
closed her real estate office.
tial legal review.
Montross also wrote in his
response to the newspaper’s
appeal that the record request-
ed is a “special report.” The
special report, he wrote, is
also “an internal report, not
normally produced for the
According to employees in
his own office, though, the
report is produced for area
banks, not for internal use.
The office charges $15 for a
month’s worth of data, Kilmas
said June 15.
Because the records are
stored electronically and the
office does not incur a cost for
producing the record, the $15
charge violates state law, the
newspaper maintains.
Under section 1307 of the
Right-to-Know law, “except as
otherwise provided by statute,
no other fees may be imposed
unless the agency necessarily
incurs costs for complying
with the request, and such
fees must be reasonable.”
The state Office of Open
Records is reviewing the


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