Monday, February 1, 2010

Opening Arguments in Veon Trial

Opening arguments continue this afternoon in the legislative corruption trial of former State Representative Mike Veon of Beaver Falls and 3 former aides. They are charged with conflict of interest, theft and conspiracy for allegedly using taxpayer dollars to do campaign work on state time. In his 90 minute opening statement, Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Blessington told the jury what they would be hearing over the next few to several weeks. Blessington says it started in 2004 when the House Democratic Caucus put for a bonus program to incentivize legislative staffers to knock on doors, do what needed to be done to win an election and re-take the majority in the House. Blessington said the campaign bonuses from public monies grew each year, surpassing $1 million in 2006, in order to gain power. Blessington called it "a brilliant scheme."
Veon's attorney, Dan Raynak was about 3 hours into his opening statement at 3:30 this afternoon. DUQ's Capitol Reporter Scott Detrow says Raynak is presenting a very detailed argument trying to methodically discredit witnesses who appeared before the grand jury. Raynak says many of those witnesses had incentives to tell investigators that the law was broken by his client (Veon) because they were given plea deals or immunity. The opening arguments by the attorneys for the other 3 defendants could extend into tomorrow morning.

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