Perzel set to be released this week, DeWeese next month

Posted: February 27, 2014

Former Pennsylvania House Speaker John M. Perzel, the Northeast Philadelphia legislator sent to prison for public corruption, is set to be paroled this week, earlier than his minimum sentence.

Another former House speaker, H. William DeWeese, also sent to prison for his role in a separate corruption scandal, is scheduled for parole next month earlier than his minimum sentence.

Perzel, 64, and DeWeese, 63, were eligible for reduced sentences under a program for nonviolent inmates who stay out of trouble while behind bars, said Sherry Tate, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.

Both men will remain on parole until the end of their maximum sentences in 2017.

Perzel is set to be released from Laurel Highlands prison in Somerset County on or after Wednesday. He was sentenced March 21, 2012, to 30 to 60 months in prison for his role as the mastermind of a scheme to use taxpayer-paid computer programs to win political campaigns.

Perzel, a Republican, pleaded guilty and told the judge at his sentencing that he "embarrassed myself, my family, my friends, the people of Pennsylvania, and I am truly sorry."

DeWeese, a Democrat from Greene County in southwestern Pennsylvania, fought his charges at trial and was found guilty. He was sentenced April 24, 2012, to the same 30- to 60-month term as Perzel.

DeWeese was convicted of directing legislative staffers to perform campaign work on taxpayer time. His charges arose from the "Bonusgate" scandal, in which it was revealed that House Democratic aides received taxpayer-paid bonuses for political work.

The parole board's requirements for Perzel include maintaining employment or actively searching for a job, having his wages attached for court-ordered obligations, and submitting to random drug tests.

Among the requirements for DeWeese, who is serving his time at the Retreat prison near Wilkes-Barre: He is prohibited from possessing or consuming alcohol. He must submit to a mental-health evaluation and take psychotropic drugs if they are prescribed. He cannot possess firearms ammunition, and he must avoid any contract with Sharon Rodavich, a former aide who testified against him.

215-854-5983 @RobertMoran215

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