A grim, ‘embarrassed’ Perzel sentenced to 30- to 60-months

Posted: March 21, 2012

HARRISBURG - Former House Speaker John M. Perzel was sentenced to 2-1/2 to 5 years in prison today for his role as mastermind of the so-called "Computergate" scheme to use taxpayer-paid computer programs to win political campaigns.

In sentencing Perzel, Dauphin County Judge Richard A. Lewis called the former Republican legislator's conduct a "shocking and flagrant violation of the public trust" that sacrificed "legitimate legislative work."

A grim-faced Perzel said nothing as he left the courthouse.

While awaiting his punishment, he told the judge that he had "embarrassed myself, my family, my friends, the people of Pennsylvania, and I am truly sorry."

Also awaiting sentencing today is Brian Preski, Perzel's former chief of staff, and Eric Ruth, Perzel's nephew who also used to be the House GOP's technology director.

Perzel pleaded guilty last August to eight of 82 counts of conspiracy, theft, and conflict of interest. He cooperated and testified in the case.

Preski, 46, interrupted his trial last fall to plead guilty to 10 of the 54 counts of theft, conspiracy, and conflict of interest he was facing. His plea did not include cooperation with investigators.

Perzel became House Speaker in 2003-before that, he was majority leader-and held that post until it was yanked away in 2007, when the chamber's Democrats got enough votes to oust him.

Contact Angela Couloumbis at 717-787-5934 or acouloumbis@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @AngelasInk.

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