Ex-Perzel chief-of-staff Towhey pleads guilty in Bonusgate case

A former chief of staff to ex-state House Speaker John Perzel pleaded guilty today to two felony counts in the legislative corruption probe known as "Bonusgate."

Paul Towhey, 40, of Blue Bell, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of conflict of interest at a hearing in Dauphin Court in Harrisburg. He is the third of a group of ten House Republicans charged as part of the sweeping Capitol corruption investigation launched in 2007 by then-Attorney General Tom Corbett.

Senior deputy attorney general Kenneth Brown told Dauphin County Judge Richard Lewis that Towhey conspired with others, including the once powerful Perzel, to use public money for computer research for non-public purposes.

Prosecutors allege that Perzel and the other defendants used as much as $10 million in taxpayer money to fund campaign activities. Among the charges: that they developed computer databases to use against lawmakers from their own party who failed to vote on legislation as Perzel directed. 

Towhey and his attorney, Timothy Woodward, declined to comment.

Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for Attorney General Linda Kelly, said no other pleas were scheduled before jury selection for the remaining seven defendants begins on Sept. 6.

Perzel, who represented northeast Philadelphia for 32 years until his defeat by Democrat Kevin Boyle last November, has maintained his innocence and said he has no intention of taking a plea. 

Another ex-lawmaker, Brett Feese of Lycoming County, once the House Appropriations chairman, also is charged.

Towhey was charged with 26 counts that also included theft, hindering apprehension and obstruction. Prosecutors said he and other GOP officials hid boxes of campaign material from the attorney general’s office.


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