Editorial: This book propped open

Many of our readers no doubt consider the book closed on 2009’s news of Bethlehem Police Chief Louis Corsi’s racial slur. And for a chain of events with a neat story arc, there is ample reason for that. It goes like this: a misstep by public official, a revelation, an investigation and finally, a punishment.

But while this sordid affair might be many months faded into memory, the truth is one chapter of this story remained open — a chapter with potentially serious implications.

Sadly, our report this week will not be able to close the book. It will even raise new questions, including why some of Bethlehem’s high-profile employees have given conflicting accounts of high-profile events.

When the now-infamous Corsi conversation was found back in 2009, we were quick to ask town officials whether the chief had sought to have the recording of the phone call erased or altered. We’d heard that might be case. What we were told (and what is maintained by Corsi and others now) is he did go to a staff member immediately after the call took place, but only to ask about the possibility of having it wiped, not to order it outright.

That’s an important distinction, as a criminal law attorney tells us this week, because it could be the difference between an embarrassment and a criminal matter.

Some had doubts about the official version of events when they were first presented, but any accusations were hearsay in the face of the official findings. Now, we have a high ranking ex-official in former Supervisor Jack Cunningham testifying under oath to a different version of events, one in which Corsi sought to have the tape erased.

Now, perhaps Cunningham misspoke. He’s elected to stay mum on the issue now, as has Corsi. They are involved in a lawsuit, to be fair. This is par for the course, as a lack of clear information has sadly been the hallmark of this ongoing story, and apparently putting people under oath does not help much.

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