Eight months after being swept up in the Bonusgate scandal, former top State House Democrat Mike Veon is now facing a new set of corruption charges -- this time stemming from a western Pennsylvania non-profit he controlled.
State Attorney General Tom Corbett announced today that he had charged Veon, 51, the former House Majority Whip, with more than two dozen counts of theft and other charges for using millions in state grant dollars for political purposes.
Also charged today was Veon’s former top aide, Annamarie Peretta-Rosepink, 46. She had worked as a legislative aide and the top financial officer at the nonprofit, the Beaver Initiative for Growth, which Veon founded in 1991.
At a 1 p.m. news conference today in Pittsburgh, Corbett said that BIG was created primarily for the personal and political benefit of Veon.
Of the $4.7 million spent by BIG from 2004 to 2006, only 23 percent -- less than $1.1 million – went to actual program expenses. The other 77 percent went for salary, consultants and administrative costs, the grand jury found.
BIG operated an office in Midland, Beaver County and an office on the South Side in Pittsburgh -- offices that were never staffed by a BIG employee and were allegedly used as satellite legislative offices for campaign purposes.
About $84,000 in BIG funds was misappropriated for the rents, the grand jury found.
Attempts to reach Veon’s attorney were not immediately successful.
Veon and Peretta-Rosepink are expected to turn themselves in to a state judge tomorrow.
As laid out today, the case against Veon shares unmistakable similarities with one against State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo.
Fumo earlier this month was convicted of 137 federal fraud, theft and obstruction of justice counts, including dozens that dealt with allegations that he defrauded his nonprofit, Citizens’ Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, out of $1.5 million.
In July, Veon became the biggest name among a dozen House Democratic insiders to be ensnared by a separate grand jury examining what has become known as ‘Bonusgate.”
Veon, Corbett has alleged, orchestrated and carried out a scheme to give large government bonuses -- $1.7 million over two years -- to legislative staffers as rewards for working hard on political campaigns.
Veon, who served 22 years in the House and had a reputation as a shrewd political strategist, is charged with 59 counts in is awaiting trial in that case.
Click here for Philly.com's politics page.