Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Lewis considered the many letters pleading for the disgraced Beaver County lawmaker to be treated leniently but wisely looked at the larger issue. "These offenses were a clear and dramatic violation of public trust, a flagrant abuse of power," the judge said. "The defendant perverted the electoral process and damaged any perception of fairness and equality. .."
So he did. Mr. Veon, 53, was convicted on 14 charges related to his role in paying taxpayer-funded bonuses for state employees to work on his campaign and more than a dozen others. He must also pay $37,000 in fines and $100,000 restitution.
In addition, Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, 47, who ran his legislative office in Beaver Falls, was sentenced to three to six months in Dauphin County Jail, followed by three months house arrest and 45 months probation. She must pay $8,000 in fines and $25,000 in restitution. Both Mr.Veon and his ex-aide face another corruption trial in September.
In a story last week, Post-Gazette reporter Tracie Mauriello -- who in 2007 was the first to make the connection between staff bonuses and political work -- painted a vivid picture of what unfairness meant.
Encouraged by voter outrage following the legislative pay raise in 2005 (which Mr. Veon helped bring about), two political opponents -- Democrat Jay Paisley, unsuccessfully in the primary, and then Republican Jim Marshall successfully in the general election -- sought to unseat Mr. Veon with the most meager resources. But the incumbent had taxpayer money working for him -- state workers going door-to-door and planning elaborate fund-raisers.
In the courtroom Friday, Mr. Veon offered an apology for unspecified "mistakes" but the damage was not eased by those belated words. His subsequent sentence was stiff but fair and should serve as a warning to any others who might think this behavior was acceptable business as usual.