Last November, Corry Sanders was elected to become the newest McKeesport councilman. If you had told the detectives who arrested him back in 1993, they would never have believed you. If you had told incumbent Dale McCall, a retired 30-year veteran county jail guard who spent time at the same facility as Mr. Sanders, he would tell you that he would never let that happen.
On January 4 of this year, the day when the McKessport city council was to have their reorganization meeting, Mayor Michael Cherepko received a letter from the Alleghany County District Attorney Kevin McCarthy. In that letter, DA McCarthy stated: "Upon receipt of a citizen's complaint, this office reviewed Mr. Sanders' status and discovered he pled nolo contendere [no contest] to two felony counts under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act in January 1993." Due to that conviction, the Pennsylvania Constitution precludes Sanders from taking his seat.
The citizen who filed that complaint? Dale McCall. "I don't want to have a criminal who's not allowed to take that seat, take that seat," McCall said.
As even DA McCarthy points out, this is unfair "given the fact that Mr. Sanders has put his past indiscretions behind him and, by all accounts, lived an exemplary life since then." Regardless, as he mentions, the law is the law and the DA's office "must follow the law and procedures laid out for us. I am certain and satisfied that Mr. Sanders will one day be eligible to serve the people of McKeesport, and I am sure that you, like me, look forward to that day."
That path to eligibility ends with receiving a pardon from the Governor – something that could take years. "My life is transparent," Sanders told the media at his barbershop, Kool Kutz. "I've been putting my story out there for kids and the community to hear. Sometimes you fall. You make a mistake. You get up and you better yourself."
The story is about a young, non-violent man, choosing to apply his business savvy to the wrong product. Police suspected Mr. Sanders was selling cocaine from his house, bought a total of $11,400 worth of the drug using an undercover officer, and caught him transporting it in his Cadillac Cimarron. Mr. Sanders pled no contest in 1993, served prison time, and was paroled in 1998. As everyone acknowledges, that was the old Corry.
The new Corry Sanders learned how to cut hair in prison and opened up Kool Kutz when he got out. He is a church deacon that serves his community. And he is not backing down. "It was no problem until I won. All the crybabies knew about this. This is the only way they can beat me."