Fall trial possible for Washington

The corruption trial of State Sen. LeAnna M. Washington could start in October or November, a Montgomery County Court judge said Tuesday.

Judge Steven T. O'Neill announced the tentative time frame during a pretrial conference. He also said that oral arguments for a change-of-venue motion would take place on Aug. 28.

Last month, Washington requested that her trial be moved from Montgomery County to Philadelphia, since most of the people and activities involved in the case were in Philadelphia. State prosecutors want the trial to remain in Montgomery County, where, they say, her Roslyn office served as "a hiding place for some of [the] defendant's political activities."

Washington declined to comment Tuesday, but she has said she did nothing wrong.

After a yearlong investigation, the state Attorney General's Office accused Washington, a Democrat who represents parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia, of using legislative staff and tax dollars from 2005 through 2013 to organize an annual fund-raising event and birthday party in Fairmount Park.

Prosecutors said she spent at least $30,000 and possibly more than $100,000 in taxpayer money to plan and promote the festivities that were held each July. The state also accused Washington, 69, of using Senate copy machines to print mailers and banners, and of not reporting at least $6,000 in in-kind donations.

Pennsylvania Senior Deputy Attorney General Susan L. DiGiacomo said the state was ready for the trial on the two felony counts filed against Washington in March - one of diversion of services and one of restricted activities-conflict of interest.

Washington faces as many as 12 years in prison if she is convicted.