Gary Felasco, right, exits Central Court with his lawyer Jim Ross after yesterday's preliminary hearing for the allegations surrounding the National Association of Wolves Clubs. — Andrew Rush/NEWS

Despite the oppressive heat and humidity, the air in Lawrence County suddenly seems a little fresher.

At long last, Gary Felasco is no longer Lawrence County treasurer. A painful process reached a climax this week when Felasco was finally hauled off in handcuffs to begin a prison sentence.

It’s a penalty that was well deserved and one most county residents have been waiting for. But is it the end of the story?

We hope not. As we have said previously, we believe Felasco had his hands in other activities that might draw the attention of investigators.

The sentence handed down by Visiting Judge Michael J. Wherry adds to the speculation. Felasco’s jail term of one to seven years strikes us as unusually broad.

One wonders if it’s designed to encourage cooperation from Felasco, who could conceivably receive a short sentence if he offers investigators something of value. Or he could do the entire time if he refuses.

We know there is a federal probe of some type now taking place regarding activities with Affordable Housing of Lawrence County and the Lawrence County Housing Authority — one of Felasco’s former haunts. Considering what happened to Felasco in court, it might be advisable for certain individuals to assist any such investigation.

Meanwhile, things are getting interesting regarding the treasurer’s office and who runs it. Deputy Treasurer Cathy Toscano was sworn in, but the county commissioners are disputing her status, arguing they must post a bond for her.

At issue here may be the continuing question of who else knew — and participated — in Felasco’s looting of county coffers. Even with Felasco gone, the public lacks confidence in the personnel situation in the treasurer’s office.

It was encouraging to see that Wherry imposed a heavy financial penalty on Felasco. We hope that by taking his pension and pursuing reimbursement from bonding companies the county can recover much of the money. All collections need to be pursued.

As for what to do with that money, we have an obvious suggestion. The taxpayers of Lawrence County have suffered in recent years, not only from Felasco but from big tax increases imposed by the commissioners.

Use what’s obtained from the Felasco mess to cut taxes.

And citizens should not lose sight of the fact Pennsylvania law and political inertia allowed Felasco to remain in office so long, when he wasn’t working and had repeatedly demonstrated he didn’t deserve to be there.

Don’t be surprised if there are future Felascos hanging endlessly onto office. Until the rules are changed to serve the people, rather than the politicians, similar abuses are all but guaranteed.

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