Last week, legislative aide Brett Cott was sentenced for his role in the “bonusgate” scandal that has rocked Harrisburg for the past three years. Cott, who was an aide to ex-State Rep. Mike Veon, will spend up to five years in prison.
A Dauphin County judge sentenced Brett Cott, former aide to ex-House Democratic Whip Mike Veon, to 21 months to five years in prison for stealing taxpayer resources for political campaigns. Cott, 37, of New York City is the first defendant sentenced in the three-year investigation that led to charges against 26 former legislators and staffers of both political parties.
We're as disgusted with what Cott did as the next guy. However, we can't help but notice that he'll serve more time than disgraced former State Senator Vincent Fumo. Fumo was sentenced to up to four and a half years after defrauding the public for millions of dollars.
Why the big difference? Here's one thought: Fumo's sentencing hearing featured a who's who's of Pennsylvania politics, including the governor and countless other elected officials, serving as character witnesses. Cott, who is a fairly low level staffer, didn't have those kinds of advocates.
To us, Cott's sentence raises some real questions about public corruption trials. The real test will come in the next few weeks, when former State Rep. Mike Veon will get sentenced for his conviction on nearly identical charges to Cott.