Though the so-called Bonusgate prosecutions of Veon, the former House Democratic whip, and a handful of his top aides are coming to a close, months if not years of corruption trials may follow against current and former legislators swept up in Attorney General Tom Corbett's long-running probe.
The stiff sentence of six to 14 years imposed Friday on Veon, once among the most powerful Democrats in the House, sent a message, as prosecutors like to say.
The message was that Pennsylvania politicians caught abusing the public trust may be given a lot of time to think about their crimes - behind bars.
"This is what you have when people get caught using taxpayer money" for illegal purposes, Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Marc Costanzo told reporters after Veon's sentencing. "It's a crime, and we're not going to tolerate it."
In the Bonusgate case, Veon was among a dozen people associated with the House Democratic caucus to be charged in 2008 with participating in an elaborate scheme to use state workers to help win political campaigns.
Some of those workers were awarded generous bonuses for that campaign work - on the public dime.
Two of the 12 were acquitted; seven, all top aides, pleaded guilty in deals with prosecutors; and Veon and two of his senior aides were convicted.
Since that first set of charges, 13 other people - 10 Republicans and three Democrats - have been charged in Corbett's corruption probe.
The list includes Harrisburg celebrities from both parties: former House Speakers John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) and Bill DeWeese (D., Greene), both awaiting trial even as they seek reelection in November.
Perzel is accused of using taxpayer-funded computer programs worth millions of dollars to benefit Republican political campaigns.
DeWeese is charged with using state-paid legislative staff for Democrats' campaign chores.
And Corbett, the Republican nominee for governor, has said his office's investigation is continuing.
Veon's sentence, meted out by Dauphin County Judge Richard A. Lewis, was especially striking compared with the prison term a federal judge ordered last year for former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo (D., Phila.), whose power and reach eclipsed Veon's.
Veon, convicted on 14 of 49 counts of theft, conflict of interest, and conspiracy, is to serve at least six years. Fumo, convicted on all 137 counts of defrauding the state and a nonprofit, evading taxes, and obstructing justice, is serving four years and seven months. Federal prosecutors are seeking approval to appeal Fumo's sentence as too lenient.
If Friday's events had prosecutors exulting, they may have also made defense lawyers think twice.
One Philadelphia lawyer who has been both, L. George Parry, said sentences like Veon's could spur defendants - particularly the smaller fish in a case - to turn state's evidence in an effort to stave off a similar fate.
"The practical impact is that those people . . . are going to think long and hard about cooperating with the commonwealth," said Parry, who represented several witnesses who testified before the investigating grand jury in Bonusgate. "Otherwise, they face getting slammed at the time of sentencing."
Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for Corbett's office, used a word that has come up frequently in Harrisburg this year: change. His boss has used it quite a lot in the campaign.
"This is a book that we don't know the ending to yet," Frederiksen said, "but we are certainly hoping that it changes things - that this isn't just about one or two people going to jail, but that the institution changes."
That theme sounded all through the May 24 report by the grand jury that spent two years investigating the Bonusgate scandal. The 34-page document called on the legislature "to leave its 'time warp' of public corruption" by trimming its size and staff, imposing term limits, eliminating partisan hiring, and enforcing tougher spending controls.
Self-styled reform groups see the Veon sentencing and the coming trials as a window of opportunity for lancing what they call an entrenched culture of corruption in the Capitol. Corbett and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato have pledged to make reforming that culture a priority.
"The legislature is on notice," said Tim Potts, founder of the activist group Democracy Rising. "They can either reform themselves now or have someone else do it for them."
In addition to Corbett's investigation, there is the separate federal probe of Mellow, the Senate's outgoing Democratic leader. Agents from the FBI and IRS executed search warrants on his home and district office Friday morning even as a stone-faced Veon awaited sentencing in Dauphin County Court.
Mellow aide Lisa Scullin said the senator was cooperating fully with investigators' requests for information.
While federal officials declined to say what they were investigating, The Inquirer reported in 2009 that Mellow had billed the state for more than $200,000 in rents for a district office in a building he co-owned.
To be sure, not everyone thinks the latest headlines will stir the public pot in the same way as, say, the legislators' middle-of-the-night vote in 2005 to raise their pay.
Berwood A. Yost, a political pollster at Franklin and Marshall College, said Pennsylvanians were already so soured on their elected officials that another prison term or FBI raid "doesn't change anything" in voters' bleak outlook.
"To quote an old Pink Floyd song, it's just another brick in the wall," Yost said. "It's sad to say that this is business as usual."
He added: "I think it just continues to reinforce the perception that this sort of behavior is a frequent and recurring thing in Pennsylvania - and in the Pennsylvania legislature in particular."
But Daniel M. Shea, a political scientist who runs the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College, said that despite their cynicism toward politicians, reform-minded voters could take encouragement from Friday's events.
"During periods of reform, change happens in a number of directions," he said. "Voters are part of that. And legal investigations and court actions can be part of that."
He added: "I think members of the public could see this as a change that is helping to turn the page in Pennsylvania politics."
Contact staff writer Angela Couloumbis at 717-787-5934 or email@example.com.
Inquirer staff writer Tom Infield contributed to this article.