Convicted Ex-Pa. House Speaker Perzel won't have to pay $1 million to state

Former House Speaker John Perzel.

HARRISBURG - Former House Speaker John Perzel will not have to pay $1 million in restitution for his role in the political corruption scandal that landed him in prison for nearly two years, a state appellate court ruled Wednesday.

The Superior Court ruling follows several years of appeals by Perzel, who pleaded guilty in 2011 to conspiracy, theft, and other crimes for using millions in taxpayer dollars to develop sophisticated computer programs to further his and other Republicans' political careers. 

Perzel, a once-powerful politician from Northeast Philadelphia, served his time but appealed the judge's restitution order. Bolstered by a recent state Supreme Court decision in a different political corruption case, Perzel argued that the state cannot be a "victim" for purposes of restitution. 

Superior Court agreed, dismissing the restitution and ordering a new sentencing hearing for Perzel. It is unclear what impact that will have, given that Perzel has served his time and has been out on parole since February 2014.

His lawyer, Joel Sansone, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, and Perzel declined to comment.

Perzel served more than three decades in the legislature before losing a reelection bid as the case loomed, and took a lump-sum payout of just under $204,000, according to state records. In pleading guilty, he forfeited future pension payments. 

Last year, Perzel registered as a lobbyist and has been working as a consultant. His parole is scheduled to end this month.