Pennsylvania defense attorney pressured clients into sex, officials say

A defense attorney who used to work as a county prosecutor targeted vulnerable clients for sex, exploiting four women in exchange for legal work he did for them or their family members, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office said Monday.

Corey J. Kolcharno, 47, is charged with four counts of promoting prostitution after an investigation found he took advantage of his clients' legal and financial troubles, tethering "his performance as their counsel to a demand for sexual services from them or in exchange for payment," police wrote in an affidavit.

Kolcharno — a former Lackawanna County prosecutor — was arraigned Monday and released on $20,000 unsecured bail. His attorney said Kolcharno will plead guilty. Kolcharno told reporters he intended to give up his law license.

According to state police, Kolcharno targeted women who struggled with addiction, had been sexually abused or had financial problems. At first he requested nude photos or worn underwear, then escalated his predatory behavior into a demand for sex in exchange for legal services, authorities said. He paid his clients as much as $500 or knocked that amount off their bills, police said.

Victims said they were ashamed but felt they had no choice but to give in, authorities said.

Kolcharno "picked these victims because they had limited choices, because he thought they would be easy to silence, and less likely to be believed if they ever came forward," Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a written statement.

Investigators said they found hundreds of nude and sexually explicit images of Kolcharno's clients on his cellphone.

Kolcharno's attorney, Paul Walker, said his client intends to plead guilty.

"We met with the attorney general’s office, made a decision to accept complete responsibility, acknowledge his mistakes that he has made professionally," Walker said. "His biggest worry is to move forward for not only himself but he's got two young kids. He wants to forward for his family."

It wasn't clear how Kolcharno's conduct came to light, but police said it went on for several years, between 2018 and 2022, while Kolcharno was a partner in the Fanucci & Kolcharno law firm outside Scranton.

Firm records showed Kolcharno’s staff knocked hundreds of dollars off one client’s bill, noting the discount was "per CJK," police wrote in an affidavit. The woman complained about the arrangement to her boyfriend, but said she felt she had no choice because she couldn’t afford to pay otherwise, authorities said.

A message was left for Kolcharno’a law partner.

Before re-entering private practice, Kolcharno was an assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County from 2005-2011. A spokesperson for Shapiro declined to comment on whether authorities are looking at Kolcharno's time as a prosecutor.

Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell, who took office in 2018, well after Kolcharno had left, did not respond to a question about whether his office is conducting an internal investigation. Powell said he referred the state police probe to the attorney general's office in August 2021 because of a conflict of interest.