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Woman Being Sued by Marino Apologizes

Suggested he was involved in selling drugs, has ties to organized crime

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., is seeking a retraction and compensatory and punitive damages in his suit against a woman and her son he says slurred him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., is seeking a retraction and compensatory and punitive damages in his suit against a woman and her son he says slurred him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A woman named in a lawsuit by Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino has apologized for inferring he was a drug pusher and alleging ties to organized crime.

Marlene Steele, who is 80 years old, was sued by the Republican after she sent an email saying “Tom Marino has a big hand in spreading these [opioid] drugs,” PennLive reported.

But Steele issued an apology in an email.

“I just wanted you know that my son, Mike, and I never said you pushed drugs,” Steele wrote.

The initial email also said Marino “took a $100,000 kickback from the prescription drug industry” while authoring legislation that some have argued weakened efforts to fight the opioid epidemic.

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The allegations were rooted in a report by “60 Minutes” and the Washington Post about the legislation Marino sponsored.

The report ultimately led to Marino withdrawing his name from being considered to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Steele is now apologizing, saying she is a born-again Christian who “would not do such a terrible thing to you or anyone.”

But Marino’s attorney Matthew Haverstick said the suit would only be dropped if she publicly retracted what she wrote in an email.

Haverstick said the accusation was ethnic stereotyping that Italian Americans are involved in organized crime.

Steele said she initially planned to vote for Marino in this month’s primary but that changed when Marino filed the lawsuit.

Steele’s son said any chance of her going back to voting for Marino ended when he did not respond to her apology email.

Michael Steele said he never intended for the email to go public when he sent it to his mother.

“I don’t know how the email got out there,” Michael Steele said. “It wasn’t meant for the world to see, just my mom. I just sent it to Mom.”

The Steeles say in the email that they are supporting Marino challenger Doug McLinko, a Bradford County commissioner.

Besides a retraction, Marino is also seeking undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages, saying that the Steeles’ allegations have hurt his re-election campaign.