Perzel: No plans to plead in 'Bonusgate' case

Perzel
Perzel
Posted: August 17, 2011

FORMER STATE House Speaker John Perzel, due to go on trial for corruption charges next month, said yesterday that he is not considering a deal to plead guilty.

Perzel, 61, spoke after being surprised by the Daily News with news that three of his nine co-defendants in the case, including his brother-in-law, are set to plead guilty in Dauphin County court this week and then cooperate with state prosecutors.

The state Attorney General's Office announced yesterday that Perzel's brother-in-law, Samuel "Buzz" Stokes, 69, and two others had agreed to plead guilty to felony charges and testify.

Paul Towhey, 40, Perzel's former chief of staff, and Don McClintock, 43, who ran his campaign office, are also taking deals.

Asked if he was disappointed in the deals, especially his wife's brother's, Perzel paused for a long moment before noting Stokes' age and that legal representation is very expensive.

Asked about the other men, Perzel replied: "I don't know. You have to ask them."

Attorneys for Perzel, Stokes, McClintock and Towhey did not respond to requests for comment.

Perzel was accused in November 2009 of illegally using $10 million in state money to coordinate political campaigns. He faces 82 counts of conspiracy, theft and conflict of interest in the long-running investigation known in Harrisburg as "Bonusgate."

A Dauphin County judge on July 29 denied a motion from Perzel and his co-defendants to dismiss all charges. The accused had claimed the Attorney General's Office committed misconduct because some notes of witness interviews were destroyed and other legal materials were slow to be released to defense attorneys.

Perzel in November lost his bid for re-election for Northeast Philadelphia's 172nd Legislative District, which he held for three decades. That district includes parts of Mayfair, Tacony, Fox Chase, Bustleton, Rhawnhurst and Lexington Park.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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