Pa. Dems arraigned on corruption charges

HARRISBURG, Pa. - December 16, 2009

A suburban Harrisburg district judge set $50,000 unsecured bail for Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Greene, former state Rep. Stephen Stetler, D-York, and DeWeese district aide Sharon Rodavich. They will only have to pay that amount if they fail to show up for future court dates.

The three are charged with conspiracy, conflict of interest and four counts of theft. The attorney general's office has accused them of using taxpayer-paid workers and resources to help Democrats run campaigns.

DeWeese, a former majority leader and former House speaker, resigned Tuesday night as House Democratic whip, the third-ranking leadership position. Stetler submitted his resignation as Revenue secretary to Gov. Ed Rendell hours before charges were announced Tuesday.

After the arraignment, DeWeese recounted to reporters how he responded, as majority leader, to the news in early 2008 that began the investigation - that millions of dollars in bonuses had been quietly granted to legislative staffers. He said his cooperation with investigators was "at the dizzying zenith."

He said the charges "disappointed" him, then, without answering questions, strode out the door to his lawyer's waiting car.

Stetler attorney Josh Lock said he hadn't had a chance to read through the grand jury presentment. Rodavich's lawyer, Thomas J. Farrell, declined to comment.

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