Charges refiled against Veon, aide
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Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett today refiled a majority of criminal counts against former House Minority Whip Michael Veon and his former top district aide -- charges that were dismissed during a preliminary hearing last week.
The charges grew out of a state investigation into the Beaver Initiative for Growth, a nonprofit development agency created by Mr. Veon and which dispensed millions of dollars in state economic development funds. Prosecutors say BIG essentially became a political arm for Mr. Veon.
A statewide grand jury sitting in Pittsburgh reported in March that Mr. Veon used up to $20,000 in state funds to provide payroll bonuses to district office staff as a reward for working political campaigns.
Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, who headed Mr. Veon's district House office, was also charged with several criminal counts for allegedly misapplying state funds. She served as fiscal officer for the non-profit.
The charges were dismissed last week by Harrisburg District Judge Joseph Solomon, who told prosecutors he did not believe the evidence they presented at the preliminary hearing last week would suffice for a conviction.
Prosecutors today filed a motion to have the next preliminary hearing held before a Dauphin County Common Pleas judge. The motion says Judge Solomon applied the wrong standard of proof in his decision and made statements during last week's hearing that suggested he had prejudged the case.
Under Pennsylvania criminal procedure, a preliminary hearing, which is held to determine if the charges should go to trial, requires "prima facie" evidence that a crime was committed. Prosecutors say Judge Solomon applied the higher standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt, which is employed at a criminal trial.
Charges against Mr. Veon in connection with a payroll bonus scandal, part of a wide-ranging probe into allegations that House Democrats used state funds to reward political work by staff members, were sent on to court in an earlier preliminary hearing.
The attorney general's office has been continuing an investigation into whether House Republicans engaged in the same scheme.
First Published May 27, 2009 10:59 am