Friday, February 12, 2016

Perzel et al Computer-gate hearing resumes

Perzel et al Computer-gate hearing resumes



And the Bonusgate-related news just keeps on coming....

Tomorrow at 9 a.m. in Dauphin County Court, Rep. John Perzel's preliminary hearing in the Computer-gate scandal resumes, and more witnesses are expected to testify that the Northeast Philadelphia Republican used taxpayer-funded computer programs to benefit political campaigns.

The preliminary hearing, which started last month, is expected to determine whether prosecutors with the Attorney General's Office have enough evidence to proceed to trial.

So far, about a half dozen people have taken the stand against Perzel and nine others charged in the case. One of them: William Tomaselli, a former special projects director for Perzel. Tomaselli, who has immunity, testified that expensive computer programs were paid for by the House Republican caucus - but that data were culled from them to further campaigns.

The programs had catchy names like "The Edge," and "Candidate Connect" and were used, among other things, to help direct campaign e-mails and target fund-raising messages to likely voters.

Perzel is charged with 82 counts of theft, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and conflict of interest. A grand jury in November accused the Northeast Philadelphia Republican and nine others of misusing public money for campaign purposes, and then trying to cover it up.

Perzel, prosecutors allege, had spent nearly $10 million in taxpayer funds to create as many as a dozen computer software programs designed to give him and fellow GOP politicians an upper hand in elections.

The other nine people charged in the case – including former Perzel chief of staff Brian Preski and former Rep. Brett Feese of Lycoming County - all had ties to the House Republican caucus.

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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