Charges against Veon over Beaver nonprofit dismissed

Prosecutor intends to refile them

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HARRISBURG -- A district judge in Harrisburg today dismissed all charges against former Beaver County state Rep. Mike Veon and his top assistant, Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, in connection with a nonprofit agency started by the former legislator.

After more than seven hours of testimony, District Judge Joseph Solomon ruled that the state attorney general's office didn't show the pair committed a crime in the way they spent millions of dollars in state money through a nonprofit known as the Beaver Initiative for Growth. They had been charged in March with multiple counts of theft, criminal conspiracy and conflict of interest after a lengthy state grand jury investigation.

However, the prosecutor said after the ruling he plans to refile the charges.

The two still face charges filed in July for their alleged involvement in the Bonusgate scandal, in which Democratic legislators and staff members were charged with using state money to pay staffers for political work.

Judge Solomon said prosecutors did not establish the likelihood that Mr. Veon and Mrs. Perretta-Rosepink had committed a crime.

"Was there a lot of indiscretion here? Tons of it," the judge said. "There were a lot of things done . . . that lent themselves to at least an appearance of impropriety.

"I get the sense that the commonwealth might have a No. 4 batter, a home run hitter that can drive all the runs in, but we haven't heard from him today. We're just a step or two short. One person's testimony or two persons' testimony short of [proving] all these charges here today. "We don't have conclusive evidence here today that substantiates the charges we've heard."

Attorney Joel Sansone, representing Mr. Veon, said the whole case was politically motivated. "It's a political put-up job meant to smear good public servants," he said.

Mr. Veon declined to comment. Mrs. Perretta-Rosepink said she was relieved the charges were dismissed.

But the prosecutor, senior state Deputy Attorney General Anthony Krastek, said he would refile all or nearly all of the 29 charges against Mr. Veon and six against Mrs. Perretta-Rosepink in the next few days, possibly in Common Pleas Court.

He also called Mr. Sansone's comment reckless allegations and said he thinks Judge Solomon used the wrong standard of evidence.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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