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Former Pa. House Speaker Perzel Gets 2½-5 Years in Prison For Corruption

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John Perzel (center) at the Dauphin County Courthouse.  credit: Tony Romeo

John Perzel (center) at the Dauphin County Courthouse. credit: Tony Romeo

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Former Pennsylvania house speaker John Perzel (R-Phila.) will spend 30 to 60 months in prison for his role in a scheme to use public resources for campaign purposes.

Perzel, 62, also was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution, and will spend an additional five years on probation.

The once-powerful state politician sat stone-faced this morning as Dauphin County, Pa. judge Richard Lewis handed down his sentence.

Perzel was among seven Republican defendants who pleaded guilty in the case (see previous story).   Prosecutors say he masterminded a scheme to spend millions of dollars on taxpayer-funded computer technology and expertise to give GOP candidates an advantage in election campaigns.

Defense attorney Brian McMonagle spoke extensively before the judge prior to sentencing about Perzel’s lifelong efforts on behalf of his community and his constituents, especially the poor and disadvantaged.  Then Perzel admitted to the judge that he had embarassed himself, his family, and the people of Pennsylvania.  And for that, he said, he is truly sorry.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Perzel pleaded guilty and had cooperated fully in the ongoing probe (see related story).

The judge said he had also received more than 100 letters in support of Perzel.  Still, the judge said, Perzel’s crimes were a “shocking and flagrant violation” of the public trust.

Perzel had no additional comment as he left the courtroom. Defense attorney McMonagle said he felt Judge Lewis fully considered his client’s good works and the impact of his crimes in handing down the sentence.

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