Pennsylvania Lawmakers Involved in Corruption Trials Begin to Learn Fates

The most recent public official to learn of his fate for his role in a major corruption scandal involving the Pennsylvania General Assembly is former Pennsylvania House of Representatives member Brett Feese. His sentence shows that the judges and the state are both serious about ending corruption in state government. On Friday, Feb. 10, the former Representative was sentenced to between four and 12 years in prison, ordered to pay $1 million in restitution and ordered to pay $25,000 in fines and costs. The verdict and sentence will no doubt be appealed. He is scheduled to begin serving his sentence at the end of February. Jill Seaman has already started serving up to 23 months in a work release program for her role in the scandal. She was the legislative aide of Feese.

This indicates that the state is taking a strong stance against corruption in state government. There are two main ways that certain politicians were allegedly using government resources to help with their campaigns. Feese was accused, and found guilty, of using computer equipment and staff members to help get Republican’s elected with the help of consultants that were paid for with state money. This was alleged to have started in 2000 and occurred for seven years. Generally, this is referred to as Computergate. The other corruption case, referred to as Bonusgate, involved allegedly paying staff members bonuses to do campaign work. The bonuses were paid from public money. Whereas the Computergate work benefitted the Republicans, this work was to benefit the Democrats.

Current Representative Bill DeWeese was found guilty on Monday, February 6, 2012, for his part in the Bonusgate scandal. DeWeese is planning to appeal the decision and has stated that he did not break any laws with any of his actions. Despite his conviction, he will not vacate his seat in the House of Representatives until he is sentenced. After sentencing is when he is legally required to. He was seeking to have his sentencing postponed so that he could run a campaign for reelection. Several members of the House of Representatives have called for DeWeese to resign now and not pursue re-election.

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