Coming this week: sentencings in the 'Computergate' case


Seven defendants in the so-called “Computergate” case, including onetime Philadelphia Republican powerhouse John M. Perzel, are scheduled to be sentenced in Dauphin County Court Tuesday and Wednesday.

Perzel and six former legislative and campaign staffers pleaded guilty in the case last year, with most agreeing to cooperate in the state Attorney General’s Office probe. Prosecutors had initially charged 10 people, accusing them of participating in a scheme to use sophisticated, taxpayer-paid computer programs for campaign purposes.

Two people went to trial and were found guilty, including onetime Republican state Rep. Brett Feese of Lycoming County; and prosecutors dropped the charges against one former Perzel staffer, John Zimmerman.

Perzel, the former House speaker from Northeast Philadelphia, is set to be sentenced Wednesday, along with his onetime chief of staff, Brian Preski. Perzel pleaded guilty last August to eight counts of conspiracy, theft, and conflict of interest, after being charged with 82 counts. He faces from 18 months to 24 years in prison plus a $50,000 fine.

Preski interrupted the trial last fall to plead guilty to 10 of the 54 counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest that he was facing. His defense attorney at the time said his plea did not include cooperation.

Scheduled for sentencing Tuesday are Samuel “Buzz” Stokes, Perzel’s brother-in-law and former campaign manager; former campaign aide Don McClintock of Voorhees; and onetime Perzel chief of staff Paul Towhey of Blue Bell.

Also being sentenced Wednesday are Eric Ruth, Perzel’s nephew and a onetime House Republican technology employee; as well as Elmer “Al” Bowman, a former aide to Feese.

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