HARRISBURG -- The Bonusgate public corruption trial delved into the personal life of a key prosecution witness today as defense attorneys claimed an affair that continued after his marriage showed the witness is deceitful.
Defense attorney Dan Raynak grilled witness Michael Manzo about a sexual tryst he carried on for years, even as he planned his wedding and celebrated his first weeks of marriage to Rachel Hurst Manzo.
Mr. Manzo is a key witness in the trial of former state Rep. Mike Veon and three former House Democratic aides. The four are accused of using state tax dollars to fund political campaigns.
Mr. Manzo, a former top legislative aide, also was arrested as part of that alleged scheme and now is cooperating with prosecutors as part of a plea deal.
One of the charges against Mr. Manzo stems from his assistance in getting a state job in Pittsburgh for his mistress, Angela Bertugli, who was then a college student. She spent her work time doing homework and helping with political campaigns.
Mr. Manzo had testified Monday that he had a sexual affair with her and that their "intimacy" ended around the time of his marriage in May 2005. On cross-examination today, he conceded they quit having sexual intercourse because "I had some inability to perform" but continued having a physical relationship through 2008.
Mr. Raynak asked whether he entered into his marriage knowing he was going to "go forward day after day [and deceive] the person you trusted and loved the most in the world, Rachel."
Mr. Manzo said yes, he did.
Mr. Raynak presented a string of e-mail messages in which Mr. Manzo and his girlfriend said they loved each other and missed each other. In messages filled with smiley faces and exclamation points, they call each other "love," "hot stuff" and "babe."
In one message, Mr. Manzo indicates he will use a state-provided Jeep to drive to Waynesburg. The purpose of the trip was "first and foremost to see you," Mr. Manzo wrote to Ms. Bertugli.
Mr. Manzo's testimony concluded this morning.
The next witness expected to testify is Jeff Foreman, another top legislative staffer who is cooperating with prosecutors as part of a plea deal.
Tracie Mauriello: firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-787-2141.