Veon, aide get prison bunking assignments

Convicted Bonusgate figures Mike Veon and Brett Cott have received their housing assignments for the foreseable future.

Veon - who was sentenced to 6 to 14 years on theft and other charges and is not yet eligible for Social Security - was bused to SCI Laurel Highlands on July 15, the state's prison for geriatric and infirmed inmates.

Corrections officials say they determine which facility to send prisoners to based on their "program and treatment needs," but would not disclose, in the case of Veon or Cott, what those were. They said they do send younger, healthy prisoners to Laurel Highlands in Somerset - population 1,272 - to help with the heavy lifting, such as maintenance work and food service.

You may recall former House Rep. Tom Druce of Bucks County, who was 39 when he pleaded guilty to insurance fraud after running over and killing a Harrisburg man and then trying to cover it up, also served his sentence at Laurel Highlands.

Cott,  a former top House Democratic aide, was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to 2 to 5 years. He was sent to SCI Waymart in Wayne County in northeastern Pennsylvania on July 14. The prison has 1,393 inmates, many of them suffering from mental illness. Both Waymart and Laurel Highlands are minimum security prisons.

Corrections spokeswoman Sue Bensinger said officials do not take into consideration location of family or friends when making assignments but both Veon and Cott are closer to their families than they might have been considering the two could have been sent to opposite ends of the state. Veon is two hours from his family in Beaver County, while Brett Cott within a 2 1/2-hour drive of his wife, Tess Candori, a former Rendell administration spokeswoman, who now works in New York.

Bensinger said neither has been given any job assignments yet. "That process takes time," she said. "They need to get acclimated."


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