Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Former corruption defendant sues state for $2 million

There has been a lot of attention paid to guys like former State Rep. Mike Veon, who was the first elected official to be convicted in Attorney General Tom Corbett's ongoing investigation into state corruption. However, not everyone who went to trial was found guilty. Now, one of the acquitted defendants is suing the state for more than $2 million in damages and back pay.

Former corruption defendant sues state for $2 million

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There has been a lot of attention paid to guys like former State Rep. Mike Veon, who was the first elected official to be convicted in Attorney General Tom Corbett's ongoing investigation into state corruption. However, not everyone who went to trial was found guilty. Now, one of the acquitted defendants is suing the state for more than $2 million in damages and back pay.

Steve Keefer had been the director of information technology for House Democrats, until he was fired in 2007. Keefer was charged with being a major part of an effort by Democrats to use tax dollars to fund political activities. He was found not guilty at trial and is now suing to get lost wages from the state. He also wants to be compensated for the damage done to his professional reputation.

Filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District, the suit names Attorney General Tom Corbett, whose office prosecuted Mr. Keefer; state Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Waynesburg, who fired him; House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne; Speaker Keith McCall, D-Carbon; caucus counsel Bill Sloane and Bill Chadwick; attorney Matthew Haverstick, who represented several witnesses in the criminal case; and several named and unnamed caucus employees.

As you might have noticed, the suit names some of the most powerful people in the House Democratic caucus. It also makes some startling allegations about Corbett's role in selecting who would be prosecuted.

The suit alleges that Mr. DeWeese, who was then majority leader, conspired with Mr. Corbett to determine "who would be prosecuted and who would not be, who would retain jobs and who would be fired, who would have their counsel fees paid and who would not, and who would retain [employment] benefits and who would not."

It's hard to speculate what the impact of this lawsuit will be, but at the very least, it will give taxpayers a ringside seat to see how screwed up things are in Harrisburg.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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