The first Republicans to be tried in a state corruption trial have been found guilty of 40 criminal charges for their involvement in a Pennsylvania House GOP scheme to illegally spend millions of public dollars on campaign activities.
The Dauphin County Court jury has found former Rep. Brett Feese and Jill Seaman, his one-time aide, guilty of theft, conspiracy, conflict of interest, hindering apprehension and obstruction.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina said more than 20 people from the state Capitol now have pleaded or been found guilty on charges that came out of a government corruption investigation. It’s the same corruption scandal that brought down former GOP House Speaker John Perzel, the political powerbroker from Philadelphia. Perzel has been described as the ringleader in the scandal known as “computergate.”.
“I sure hope the message is getting delivered over there–that they’re there for the best interests of the people and the best interests of the people only and they should not be using the money of the people for personal efforts,” Fina said Tuesday.
Seaman gave no comment as she left the courtroom. Feese insisted he’s not guilty. “It’s about being in the wrong place, at the wrong time,” said his wife.
Perzel, who pleaded guilty in August for his involvement in the scheme, testified that Feese had to know taxpayer money was being used illegally because of his role as chairman of the House Republican Campaign Committee.
Fina called Feese’s defense extraordinary.
“That you’re using millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money on campaigns and you don’t know it, when you’re in charge of the Republican campaigns,” Fina said. “Clearly the jury didn’t buy that.”
Sentencing for Feese and Seaman is scheduled for January.
Feese’s attorney said it’s likely he’ll appeal the ruling. Any appeal will have to wait until after sentencing, scheduled for January.