H. William DeWeese
Pennsylvania’s state lawmaker, H. William DeWeese is to go on trial as part of a public corruption probe that started five years ago. Prosecutors described him as “a common thief with uncommon access to other people’s money.” He held office for 36 years and was once a speaker of the state House of Representatives. He faces multiple charges including criminal conspiracy, conflict of interest and theft. Prosecutors accused him of using public funds and public employees to win election.
But DeWeese’s defense attorney said that the prosecution’s case is trumped up and “petty.”
The case against DeWeese comes from a larger investigation, nicknamed “Bonusgate,” that has so far involved 10 House Democratic caucus members and nine House Republican caucus members, including former Republican House Speaker John Perzel of Philadelphia. Perzel has pleaded guilty to charges and awaits sentencing.
Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover opened the trial by banning reporters covering the trial from tweeting from the courtroom. He cited a proposed rule that the state Supreme Court is considering.
The first prosecution witness, Patrick Grill said that he and some other employees in DeWeese’s Harrisburg office visited his electoral district to conduct opposition research. He said that he should have put in a leave application before visiting . Their hotel rooms, food and other expenses were born by the campaign funds and they received their usual legislative salary.