Former state House Speaker John Perzel to take plea deal

KYW Newsradio is reporting this morning that former state House speaker John Perzel will plead guilty tomorrow in Dauphin County Common Pleas Court in the corruption case that ended his three-decade career in office.  Perzel two weeks ago denied that he was negotiating a plea deal after learning from PhillyClout that his brother-in-law and two close aides -- all part of 10 people from the state House Republican caucus charged with corruption -- were making deals with prosecutors.

After his denial, we considered [third item in column] two factors sure to be weighing heavily on Perzel's mind:  A plea might cost him the $85,653 state pension and medical insurance for his wife, Sheryl, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994.

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Former Speaker John Perzel

Perzel was accused in November 2009 of illegally using $10 million in state money to coordinate political campaigns. He faced 82 counts of conspiracy, theft and conflict of interest in the long-running investigation known in Harrisburg as "Bonusgate."

A Dauphin County judge on July 29 denied a motion from Perzel and his co-defendants to dismiss all charges. The accused had claimed the Attorney General's Office committed misconduct because some notes of witness interviews were destroyed and other legal materials were slow to be released to defense attorneys.

Perzel in November lost his bid to be re-elected to represent Northeast Philly's 172nd District.

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