Corruption trial under way for former Pa. House Speaker DeWeese

    The political corruption trial of former Pennsylvania House Speaker Bill DeWeese began Monday.

    The SAT vocabulary and verbal plumage so characteristic of DeWeese weren’t on full display in the courtroom, but the Greene County Democrat didn’t miss an opportunity to drop a colorful quote into his explanation of his mood before trial.

     

    “I feel very upbeat and optimistic,” he said. “And I’m reminded of one of the most famous quips in political history: ‘Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how’d you like the play?'”

     

    In his opening statement, the state’s prosecutor said DeWeese was able to hold top positions of his caucus, including House speaker, due to an extensive system of using state employees and other resources for political campaigns and fundraising.

    DeWeese’s attorney says the charges are petty, and DeWeese was too trusting of two staffers and a former House member who masterminded a scheme to reward state employees with large cash bonuses if they did political work.

    The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

    It stems from the political corruption investigation launched by the state attorney general’s office in 2007.

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