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Bonusgate

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NEWS
July 24, 2008
TO THE thieves caught in the legislature: I hope Attorney General Tom Corbett goes to the full extent and the law finds all these crumbs guilty of stealing taxpayer money. If convicted, they should lose their pensions. It probably goes on in all branches, but they're not getting caught. Pat Panichello, Philadelphia
NEWS
May 14, 2008
House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese (D., Greene) has pledged to divert "substantial" tax money from his Harrisburg slush fund to more beneficial uses. Sounds good, but not if DeWeese has in mind spending taxpayers' money on a Washington consultant to do damage control in a grand jury probe of staff bonuses. The General Assembly's bill to taxpayers for responding to the Bonusgate scandal has now topped $1 million, it was reported yesterday. It's not hard to envision the day when DeWeese and his pals will have spent more taxpayer dollars to clean up this ethical mess than the $3.6 million in tax money that legislative leaders spent on the secret bonuses.
NEWS
March 19, 2010 | By Mario F. Cattabiani INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Jurors in the Bonusgate corruption trial yesterday deliberated for a fifth day without reaching verdicts on 139 counts against former State Rep. Mike Veon and three of his ex-aides. The eight women and four men wrapped up work for the day without any drama. A day earlier, several had tears in the eyes, with one telling the judge that they were "turning" on one another. Dauphin County Judge Richard A. Lewis had told them to stick with it, and they appeared to have listened.
NEWS
June 17, 2010 | By Joelle Farrell, Inquirer Staff Writer
Republican U.S. House candidate Patrick Meehan issued a bold announcement to reporters Tuesday: He would reveal "newly uncovered information" that would call into question his Democratic opponent's "fitness for higher office. " But the theatrics of Wednesday's event - in front of the white marble staircase and beneath the painted dome ceiling of the state Capitol - were quickly turned upside-down when Meehan's opponent, State Rep. Bryan Lentz, upstaged him at the microphone, tossing a Meehan campaign sign to the floor.
NEWS
October 17, 2008 | By Mario F. Cattabiani and Angela Couloumbis INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
For several hours yesterday, the former chief of staff to the highest-ranking Democrat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives testified before a grand jury investigating whether public dollars were illegally used for campaign purposes. Mike Manzo, the onetime top aide to House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese (D., Greene), appeared before the panel a week after giving explosive testimony in open court implicating his former boss in the scandal known as Bonusgate. Manzo, who is charged in the case and is now cooperating with authorities, declined to discuss what he told the grand jury.
NEWS
December 24, 2009 | By Tom Infield and Mario F. Cattabiani INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
It was sometime in the spring of 2007. Harrisburg Democrats had just learned of the criminal investigation that would become known as Bonusgate. As one of them later testified to a grand jury, staff members of Rep. Todd Eachus, then the Democratic policy chairman, became worried about the lawfulness of political work they were doing on state time. John Paul Jones recalled fellow staff member Rachel Manzo's saying that maybe they needed to be a little more discreet. Thus, Jones said, he stopped doing political chores in Eachus' office on the first floor of the Capitol, where there were "a lot of eyes.
NEWS
December 2, 2012 | By Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press
SCRANTON - Robert J. Mellow, a former leader of Pennsylvania's Senate Democrats whose portrait hangs in the state Capitol, was sentenced Friday to 16 months in prison on public-corruption charges. U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky ordered Mellow, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in May, to pay nearly $80,000 in restitution to the state Senate, along with a $40,000 fine to the federal government. Mellow has already paid $31,000 in restitution for filing a bogus tax return. The former lawmaker issued a brief apology to the court.
NEWS
July 13, 2008 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - The political consequences of the fast-spreading Bonusgate scandal could be enormous. Will incumbents be threatened by a newly infuriated, throw-out-the-crooks electorate? Will Democrats surrender the state House, which they control by one vote, to Republicans? Will the legislature, scheduled to meet for as few as nine days this fall, be able to conduct business effectively amid the political fallout? "If true, these allegations are what cause people to lose faith in government," said Rep. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery)
NEWS
August 16, 2011 | By Amy Worden and Laura Olson, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU / PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE
Three individuals connected to House Republicans who were charged in the Bonusgate corruption probe will plead guilty this week, according to the state Attorney General's Office. The three men, including ex-Rep. John Perzel's brother-in-law Samuel "Buzz" Stokes, will plead guilty to felony charges, said spokesman Nils Frederiksen. Stokes and Perzel's former campaign aide Don McClintock will enter their pleas Wednesday in Dauphin County Court. Perzel's ex-chief-of-staff Paul Towhey will enter his plea on Friday, Frederiksen said.
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NEWS
December 3, 2015 | BY WENDY RUDERMAN, Daily News Staff Writer rudermw@phillynews.com, 215-854-5924
IT WAS LATE 2009. Then-state Rep. Bill DeWeese sat in a conference room at the Attorney General's Office in Harrisburg filled with investigators and prosecutors. Frank Fina, a lead prosecutor on a series of political-corruption scandals that would rock Harrisburg and ultimately would send DeWeese to prison, had breasts on his mind. Fina asked DeWeese whether he knew that one of his legislative staffers had used an illegal $5,000 bonus to get a " 'tit job,' " according to DeWeese, a Democrat who served as House speaker and majority whip.
NEWS
November 26, 2014 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - One day soon, his portrait will hang next to Benjamin Franklin's in the main hall of the state Capitol. But on Monday, House Speaker Sam Smith (R., Jefferson) bid farewell to staff, lobbyists, and the press corps at a luncheon speech. During his talk, Smith served up stories about high points - a partisan conflagration in Gov. Rendell's office - and low points - the "Bonusgate" investigation - of his 28 years in the legislature. Smith, whose north-central Pennsylvania district is most famous as the home of Punxsutawney Phil, ends his three-year stint as speaker this month when he retires from office.
NEWS
September 24, 2013
AS OUR HAPLESS Legislature returns today from extended summer break, dragging its 11 percent approval rating with it, seems a good time to talk about a state gone wrong. More precisely, a new book by Pittsburgh Tribune-Review journalist Brad Bumsted, Keystone Corruption: A Pennsylvania Insider's View of a State Gone Wrong (Camino Books). If I were in charge, there'd be a copy on each lawmaker's desk in the House and Senate chambers. Maybe, just maybe, reading it could move a few to start restoring a semblance of respectability to the institution they inhabit.
NEWS
December 2, 2012 | By Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press
SCRANTON - Robert J. Mellow, a former leader of Pennsylvania's Senate Democrats whose portrait hangs in the state Capitol, was sentenced Friday to 16 months in prison on public-corruption charges. U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky ordered Mellow, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in May, to pay nearly $80,000 in restitution to the state Senate, along with a $40,000 fine to the federal government. Mellow has already paid $31,000 in restitution for filing a bogus tax return. The former lawmaker issued a brief apology to the court.
NEWS
May 25, 2012 | By Angela Couloumbis and Thomas Fitzgerald, Inquirer Staff Writers
HARRISBURG - He is being picketed almost daily by demonstrators in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh - a tin man without a heart, they call him. His Facebook page teems with complaints from angry Pennsylvanians. And his poll numbers have started to sag. Enough, say top political advisers, supporters, and fund-raisers to Gov. Corbett. Though they have anxiously watched for months as Corbett has fielded political hits on everything from policy to personality, they are now encouraging the governor to shake things up in hopes of shaking off what they think is turning into a growing image problem.
NEWS
April 25, 2012 | By Angela Couloumbis, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
HARRISBURG — In the span of several hours Tuesday, former top House Democrat Bill DeWeese quit his legislative seat, attempted to win it back, and was sentenced to 2-1/2 to five years in prison for crimes committed while he was in office. DeWeese, 62, resigned the seat he held for nearly 36 years shortly before a judge sentenced him for theft and other political corruption convictions stemming from the wide-ranging "Bonusgate "investigation in the Capitol. He was also ordered to pay $25,000 in fines and $116,000 in restitution to the state.
NEWS
April 24, 2012 | By Angela Couloumbis, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
HARRISBURG — Former House Democratic leader Bill DeWeese was sentenced today to 2-1/2 to 5 years in prison for theft and other political corruption charges stemming from the wide-ranging Bonusgate investigation in the Capitol. In sentencing DeWeese, Dauphin County President Judge Todd Hoover called the former legislator "the instigator" of the criminal activity, and said he violated the public trust. DeWeese, 62, who resigned his southwestern Pennsylvania legislative seat effective noon Tuesday, has said he will appeal his conviction.
NEWS
April 17, 2012 | By Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
  HARRISBURG - The culture of Harrisburg politics wasn't what made him do it. He and he alone was responsible for his crimes in the Bonusgate scandal. So said Mike Manzo, a onetime top House Democratic staffer, moments before a judge sentenced him Monday to up to four years in prison. Manzo, who went from Bonusgate defendant to the prosecution's key witness, was sentenced to 18 to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $95,000 in fines and restitution for his role in the wide-ranging conspiracy to use taxpayer money and resources for political gain.
NEWS
February 27, 2012
IN THE 1997 Jack Nicholson/Helen Hunt Oscar-nominated film "As Good as It Gets," Nicholson's character - in a group therapy session - asks, fittingly, "What if this is as good as it gets?" When it comes to leadership in Harrisburg, where everyone is or should be in therapy, the same question ia appropriate. And, if this is as good as it gets, Pennsylvania needs a political lobotomy. Anyone looking at anything connected to the Capitol these days would condone radical response: if not surgery, certainly torches and pitchforks.
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