Scranton, Lackawanna County - A Lackawanna County man and former education leader is in trouble with the law for the second time.
Mark Kandel of Peckville was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on criminal solicitation charges. Prosecutors say he exchanged inappropriate text messages with a teenage boy.
On Monday, detectives executed a search warrant on Kandel's home. They seized computer-related items, including a cell phone.
In October, prosecutors say Kandel and the teenage boy exchanged roughly 900 text messages.
Kandel is the husband of WNEP-TV anchor Marisa Burke.
Kandel did not respond to questions as he was led into the district attorney's office in handcuffs.
"I think anytime you have accusations like this, it's troubling," Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McCambridge said. "Anytime the children of our community are put in this kind of position, it's troubling."
Investigators say the 52-year-old and the teenage boy started texting last month.
At first the texts were harmless but prosecutors say they quickly turned sexual.
Investigators say Kandel even sent the teen a picture of himself in underwear.
"There was clearly some talk of exchanging of materials, of pictures and other possible behaviors that we find very troublesome," McCambridge said.
After just learning of the charges, Kandel's attorney said they will scrutinize the allegations and will have experts look at the texts.
"Your first inkling when you look at allegations like this and the public reads them, is disdain, it's distasteful but I've met Mark, I know his wife, these are very, very nice people. They're noted in the community," defense attorney Frank Santomauro said.
This is not the first time Kandel has been in trouble with the law.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to providing alcohol to teenagers. There were also concerns over lewd messages at that time but no charges were ever brought.
"We believe this is a pattern of behavior exhibited by this particular defendent," McCambridge said. "We don't know of any other individuals at this point but if anyone has information to that regard we would certainly ask them to contact the district attorney's office and let us know."
Kandel is a former Scranton school director. He is also a former curriculum specialist at the NEIU #19 in Archbald.
According to court papers, Kandel described the sexual messages to the underage boy as "joking." Investigators say Kandel considers himself a "mentor" to teens.
A judge set his bail at $20,000 straight cash but will allow Kandel to be free after posting 10-percent. Kandel's attorney says he expects his client to post that bail.