- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

PITTSTON, Pa. (AP) - Former state Sen. Raphael Musto died Thursday at his house in northeastern Pennsylvania after a long illness, leaving pending corruption charges against him unresolved. He was 85.

Musto was surrounded by family members at his Pittston home when he died, according to niece Jacqueline Musto Carroll.

The retired lawmaker had recently been released from a federal medical prison in North Carolina where he was sent in January after being declared mentally unfit to stand trial. While there, he was diagnosed with advanced-stage lymph cell cancer.

Prosecutors say Musto accepted cash and free building renovations in exchange for his help obtaining taxpayer funding of development projects, and took additional cash as a reward for helping a municipality get state loans.

Musto was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1971 to fill the unexpired term of his late father, James Musto. He spent a term in the U.S. House of Representatives in the early 1980s and then won election to the state Senate in 1982.

He was indicted in November 2010, shortly before his retirement. He had pleaded not guilty, but the trial was repeatedly delayed by health problems that his attorneys said included a life-threatening aneurysm and advancing liver cirrhosis. They also said he had a diminished mental capacity.

Carroll, his niece and the former district attorney for Luzerne County, said family members were grateful to celebrate Easter with Musto last weekend. She described her uncle as “a very giving person.”

“So many people would come up to me over the years and say what a good person he was,” Carroll said Thursday.

She said Musto is survived by his wife, four children and many grandchildren.

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