Former Pa. lawmaker Veon to stand trial

September 4, 2009 5:01:43 PM PDT
A former legislative power broker and his one-time aide should stand trial on corruption charges, a judge ruled Friday after more than seven hours of testimony and legal wrangling. Harrisburg District Judge William Wenner's ruling represented a reversal from a preliminary hearing in May, when another judge dismissed the charges for lack of evidence, and a serious setback for Mike Veon, the former Democratic House whip, and co-defendant Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink.

In refiling the charges, prosecutors alleged that Veon and Perretta-Rosepink illegally diverted millions of taxpayer dollars through a nonprofit that Veon controlled - the Beaver Initiative for Growth - to hire consultants who did little or no work, rented office space that the nonprofit hardly used and performed political and legislative tasks.

Veon's lawyer asserted that prosecutors presented no new evidence since the first hearing and that Friday's hearing revealed new inconsistencies likely to weaken the case when it goes to trial.

"Mr. Veon is never going to be found guilty," predicted the lawyer, Dan Raynak of Phoenix, Ariz.

Anthony Krastek, a senior deputy attorney general who is the lead prosecutor in the case, said the state prevailed Friday because the judge applied a lower standard of evidence than the first judge, Harrisburg District Judge John Solomon, who recused himself from the case when prosecutors refiled most of the charges.

"The proper standard for a preliminary hearing was utilized today," Krastek said.

Veon and Perretta-Rosepink also are among a dozen people connected to the House Democrats who were charged last summer with illegally using taxpayer money and state employees for political activity. That separate case is currently scheduled to go to trial in January.

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