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Perzel Corruption Case Inches Forward In Harrisburg

(John Perzel, left, shortly after his arrest on corruption charges.  File photo by Tony Romeo)

(John Perzel, left, shortly after his arrest on corruption charges. File photo by Tony Romeo)

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – A judge in Harrisburg today began hearing arguments on pretrial motions in the corruption case against former Pennsylvania House speaker John Perzel of Philadelphia and nine others associated with the House Republican caucus.

Perzel is charged with theft, conflict of interest, and other offenses.  As he sought dismissal of the conflict-of-interest charges, Perzel’s attorney, Brian McMonagle, told a Dauphin County judge that the line between government and political work has always been blurred.

“This is a situation where one man’s honest day’s work has become another man’s crime,” McGonagle told reporters on Wednesday.

Chief deputy Pennsylvania attorney general Frank Fina says that same argument has been used unsuccessfully before, including the case which saw the conviction of former House Democratic whip Mike Veon (see related story).

“The law is really clear: you just can’t use public resources to campaign,” said Fina on Wednesday.

The heart of the case against Perzel and his co-defendants involves the alleged misuse of taxpayer-funded computer technology for political purposes. Any trial is still months away, at least.

Reported by Harrisburg Bureau chief Tony Romeo, KYW Newsradio 1060.