A former Pennsylvania House speaker and his chief of staff were sentenced to prison Wednesday for their roles in a public campaign corruption scandal. John Perzel was sentenced to 30 months to five years in prison for his part in a public corruption scandal, while his chief of staff, Brian Preski, will spend two to four years behind bars, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review
The men, who also must pay $1 million each in restitution, could have their sentences cut by two months under a program for nonviolent offenders.
Perzel, a Philadelphia Republican, spearheaded a scheme to use millions of dollars of taxpayer-financed computer technology to gain an edge in political campaigns and keep Republicans in control of the House.
The former House speaker originally faced 82 criminal counts — including theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest — but ended up pleading guilty last August to just eight felony charges. A key prosecutor in the case said Perzel cooperated with authorities.
Preski, who was sentenced for charges of using state resources for campaigns, declined testifying against anyone in the case. Two lesser aides, who pleaded guilty for their part in the scandal, were placed on probation after pleading guilty and cooperating with prosecutors.
The two men were among 10 Republicans charged in November 2009 in a state investigation that targeted political figures in both parties. According to prosecutors, defendants bought $10 million in computer equipment, programs, and databases at taxpayer expense and used them for campaigns.
Seven of the GOP defendants entered guilty pleas, two were convicted, and another’s case was dismissed.
Perzel and Preski must report to the Dauphin County, Pa., jail on April 11 before they go to state prison. Perzel lost a pension worth more than $1 million because of the conviction, officials noted.
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