HARRISBURG – A Dauphin County jury has convicted say Rep. Bill DeWeese on charges that he directed and even forced his legislative staff to do campaign work while on the taxpayer dime and time.
The jury of seven women and five men found DeWeese guilty on five of six counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest.
The onetime House Democrat leader has maintained his innocence on the corruption charges from the start, and took the stand last week to tell jurors that he never did anything illegal.
“I did not do anything wrong – and I still feel that way,” DeWeese testified last Wednesday.
DeWeese, 61, did not dispute that his aides had done political work during legislative hours, as prosecutors alleged. But he stated he had always directed his underlings to do such work on lunch breaks, or using vacation, compensatory, or personal time.
His defense attorney, Bill Costopoulos, also argued that it was DeWeese’s underlings who recklessly put into motion a scheme to use state-paid workers on campaigns.
The jury came to its conclusion after slightly more than two days of deliberation.
DeWeese’s case was an offshoot of the so-called Bonusgate investigation that was launched by the say Attorney General’s Office in 2007.
That investigation led to criminal charges against 12 people associated with the House Democratic caucus. Seven have pleaded guilty, three were convicted and two acquitted.
Another branch of the Bonusgate tree produced charges against 10 people in a case that was nicknamed “Computergate,” including former House Speaker John Perzel. The once-powerful Philadelphia Republican and six others pleaded guilty in that case; two were convicted, and charges were dropped against the remaining defendant.
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Submited at Monday, February 6th, 2012 at 5:00 pm on Politics by Gillan
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