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Senior Federal Judge Conaboy Hospitalized After Choking

November 6, 2018 GMT

Senior U.S. District Judge Richard P. Conaboy is in critical but stable condition at a Scranton hospital after choking on food at an area restaurant Saturday, several family members said. Conaboy, 93, suffered a mild heart attack after he began choking at the Olive Garden restaurant in Dickson City. Larry Moran Jr.,one of the judge’s grandchildren, said he was taken to Regional Hospital in Scranton, where he was placed in a medically induced coma. He remained in the hospital’s intensive care unit as of Monday. Moran said the judge and his wife, Marion, 92, were at the restaurant with their daughter, Mary Ann, and her husband, Ned Abrahamsen,when he began to choke on pasta. “He remarked how hot it was. That was the last word he uttered,” Moran said. Restaurant staff and others unsuccessfully tried to dislodge the food with the Heimlich maneuver. Emergency medical professionals eventually cleared his airway. The family does not know yet if oxygen deprivation caused any lasting brain injury. Moran said his family remains hopeful as the judge showed some signs of recovery Sunday. Doctors say they may be able to bring him out of the coma today, he said. Many members of the judge’s extended family have been at his side since he was admitted. Their spirits were lifted Sunday when former vice president Joe Biden, a close friend of the Conaboys, stopped to visit him at the hospital. Biden was in the area campaigning with Sen. Bob Casey and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright. Larry Moran Sr., Conaboy’s son-in-law, said the judge and Biden became friends around 1979, when Biden, then a U.S. senator from Delaware, advocated for Conaboy’s appointment to the federal bench. Years later, Biden played a key role in helping Conaboy be appointed as chairman of the U.S. Sentencing Commission — a position he held from 1994-1998. “They forged a remarkable and genuine close friendship that has continued over the years,” Larry Moran Sr. said. He said Biden spent about 40 minutes at the hospital and spoke glowingly of his friend. “He remembered clearly telling President Clinton ... I want you to meet a man I think is one of the finest men I ever met, and I’m not just talking about a judge,” Moran said. “It was heartwarming, reassuring and uplifting for Mrs. Conaboy, in particular.” Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137 @tmbeseckerTT