Joseph Kolter Biography
Claim to Fame: Democratic representative for Pennsylvania (1969–1982)
DOB: September 3, 1926
Diabetes Type: Unknown
A democratic politician from Pennsylvania, Kolter is best known for serving as a member of the House of Representatives until his involvement in the Congressional Post Office scandal caused him to resign.
Born in McDonald, Ohio. Kolter moved to Pennsylvania at a young age, attending New Brighton High School in New Brighton, Pa., and Geneva College in Beaver Halls, Pa. Spending the bulk of his youth in Pennsylvania, Kolter’s developed a fierce loyalty to the state, only leaving it to serve in the United States Army from 1944 -1947. However, as soon as the war came to an end, Kolter returned to New Brighton where he worked for a time as a teacher and an accountant. Though always passionate about politics, Kolter’s professional political career did not begin until 1961, where he served as a New Brighton city councilman.
In 1969, Kolter became a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, a position he held until 1982, when he was elected to the Ninety-eighth United States Congress and to the four subsequent United State Congress meetings. However, in 1992, Kolter was defeated and replaced by Ron Klink.
In 1993, Kolter’s political career would take a devastating nose-dive as accusations of corruption, embezzlement, and money laundering were linked to his name. Congressional Postmaster Robert Rota pleaded guilty to charges of scandal and conspiracy, incriminating Representative Dan Rostenkowski and Kolter in the processes. Rostenkowski and Kolter were accused of leading a conspiracy to launder Post Office money through postal stamps and vouchers. In total, Kolter and Rostenkowski laundered more than $40,000 of taxpayer money. Both Kolter and Rostenkowski were convicted and sentenced to prison, with Rostenkowski serving 18 months and forced to pay a $100,000 fine, and Kolter serving 6 months in prison and fined $20,000. Kolter had sought in-home confinement because of his age, cardiac problems and recovery from surgery from prostate cancer. At the time he was also receiving diabetes treatment and suffering from hypertension, depression and cataract formation. He was denied that plea.
According to the accusations, Kolter used the money he obtained to purchase fine glassware, gold necklaces, luggage, and a collection of watches and clocks. Following his imprisonment, Kolter returned to New Brighton, fading from politics and the public lens.
1 - Biographical Directory for The United States Congress. Kolter, Joseph Paul. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=K000307 (Accessed 11/21/11)
2 - The Washington Post. U.S. Congress Votes Database: Joseph Kolter, http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/k000307 (Accessed 11/21/11)
3 - 1996. Kolter sentenced to 6 months in jail. Reading Eagle/Reading Times. July 31. A3. (Accessed 2/12)
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