Bonusgate: Veon gets 6 to 14 years

Posted: June 18, 2010

Former House Rep. Mike Veon, once among the most powerful politicians in the state, was sentenced today to six to 14 years in prison for his part in orchestrating a scheme that used taxpayer dollars to finance the campaigns of House Democrats.

In doing so, Dauphin County Court Judge Richard A. Lewis said Veon abused his office and engaged in "blatant criminal activity."

Denied bail, Veon was led away in handcuffs.

Lewis called Veon's behavior a "clear and dramatic violation of the public trust and a flagrant, glaring abuse of power."

A jury in March convicted Veon on 14 counts of theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy in the case brought by state Attorney General Tom Corbett and known as Bonusgate. He was acquitted of another 45 related counts. Two of his aides were also found guilty at that time: Brett Cott, who was sentenced last month to 21 to 60 months in prison, and Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, who was sentenced this morning to three to six months in prison.

Veon, the former House Whip who represented a district in Western Pennsylvania, had been charged with paying $1.8 million in bonuses to state workers for campaign work.

Prosecutors had sought a 12- to 17-year term.

Veon, who lost a reelection bid in 2006, still faces other legal problems.

He is contending with charges in a separate attorney general's office investigation into the Beaver Initiative for Growth, a nonprofit Veon helped create. Prosecutors allege he funneled state grants to the nonprofit and used much of the money for his political and personal gain.

In the Bonusgate case, Veon was among 12 people associated with House Democrats to be swept up in the initial round of charges in July 2008. Seven of them, all top aides, pleaded guilty in deals with prosecutors.

One, former Rep. Sean Ramaley (D., Beaver) was acquitted in December of charges that he held a no-work legislative job in 2004 when he successfully ran for the House. Another aide, Steve Keefer, was acquitted in March.

Since that first set of charges, 13 other people - 10 Republicans and three Democrats - have been charged in Corbett's corruption probe. They included two former House Speakers, Reps. John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) and Bill DeWeese (D., Greene), both of whom await trial.


Contact Inquirer staff writer Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or aworden@phillynews.com.

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