Jury deliberations will begin Thursday in the public corruption trial of a former Pennsylvania House Speaker and sitting state representative.
Greene County Democrat Bill DeWeese took the stand in his own defense. It was the first time any sitting lawmaker has done so in response to theft and conspiracy charges brought by the attorney general’s office in the case known as “Bonusgate” that follows an investigation going back more than five years.
Defense attorney William Costopoulos said DeWeese’s testimony illustrates how his management of legislative staff may have been negligent, but it also shows he didn’t direct them to campaign on legislative time.
“And that he truly did not do anything wrong intentionally and knowingly and if the staff out there had cut corners with their time slips, he was the last one in the world to have been aware of it.,” he said.
The prosecution contends time slips are irrelevant and argues DeWeese threatened to fire staffers who didn’t help with the campaign.
A former DeWeese staffer testified the lawmaker green-lighted campaigning on state time because “everybody does it,” prompting the lead prosecutor to tell the jury that just because it’s part of the culture doesn’t mean it’s not a crime.