Former Pa. House staffer gets up to 4 years in jail for ‘Bonusgate’

    A former Democratic staffer in the Pennsylvania House and the reputed mastermind of a scheme to use taxpayer dollars for political ends has been sentenced to up to four years in state prison.

    The judge said the entire scheme known as “Bonusgate” — of giving legislative staffers taxpayer-funded bonuses for working on political campaigns — was the brainchild of Mike Manzo.

    In 2009, he struck a plea deal with prosecutors, agreeing to give up his state pension and testify against some of the biggest names in the corruption scandal – including his old boss, former House Speaker Bill DeWeese.

    Manzo says he’s been disappointed those charged with corruption crimes, like him, have chosen to blame their wrongs on a “culture” or a “system” in place at the Capitol.

    “You take responsibility for your own actions,” he said Monday. “I found it offensive how casually some people that were involved in this case were quick to pawn it off on somebody else.”

    The leading prosecutor says Manzo’s cooperation was crucial to other convictions in the corruption probe, and a “large number of investigations that have yet to be revealed.”

    Manzo’s sentence includes three years’ probation and $95,000 in fines and restitution.

    He’s due to report to prison next month. A total of 25 former staffers and legislators have been charged by the state attorney general’s office for campaigning with public resources.

    Twenty-one have been convicted

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.