Jury hears DeWeese's grand jury testimony
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - January 26, 2012 (WPVI) -- A once-powerful state lawmaker told a grand jury in 2009 that he relied heavily on his district staff to perform re-election campaign duties and that he hadn't been careful to ensure that it was done on their personal, rather than taxpayer-paid time, according to a transcript read Thursday during Rep. Bill DeWeese's corruption trial.
DeWeese, 61, also insisted to the grand jury that he did not force employees to perform campaign work and that he went to great lengths to cooperate with state prosecutors once a scandal broke in 2007 over taxpayer-paid bonuses for campaign work by state legislative employees.
Still, he also acknowledged that he hadn't instilled "internal controls" to prevent campaign work by House Democratic staff in the Capitol or staff in his Greene County district offices.
"The internal controls that I had been lacking in the Capitol building I should have instilled in my campaign apparatus also," he said in a transcript read by state attorney general's office staff while the jury listened.
He told the grand jury that one of his biggest mistakes was not looking carefully at his employees' leave slips to ensure that they were performing campaign tasks, such as knocking on doors with him, on personal time.
Thursday was the fourth day of DeWeese's corruption trial in Harrisburg. The one-time Democratic floor leader and House Speaker from Greene County is accused by state prosecutors of illegally using legislative employees for political purposes. He is charged with theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest.
After reading DeWeese's testimony, prosecutors finished their case and Judge Todd Hoover said DeWeese could begin his case on Monday.
Earlier in the day, a former aide to DeWeese, Sharon Rodavich, testified that she spent years running DeWeese's re-election campaigns and told the jury that it was "common" for his state-paid staff to do campaign work on the taxpayers' time.
Rodavich said DeWeese's district staff did a variety of election tasks, including gathering signatures on nominating petitions, on taxpayer-paid time. His employees were pressured to work on campaigns and make financial contributions, Rodavich said.
Campaign work on state time was particularly frequent in 2006 to ward off a challenger after he voted the year before for a controversial legislative pay raise, she testified. She said she also heard DeWeese once pose the idea of giving taxpayer-paid raises to staff members who worked hard on campaigns.
Rodavich, 56, pleaded guilty last week to one count each of conspiracy and conflict of interest and agreed to testify against DeWeese.
pennsylvania, corruption, trial, harrisburg, local/state
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