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Corbett: No more Bonusgate charges until after election

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Monday, Sept. 22, 2008

HARRISBURG -- Attorney General Tom Corbett said today there will be no more charges filed in his public corruption investigation of the Legislature until after the Nov. 4 elections.

His announcement brought immediate criticism from Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, a Democrat running against Corbett for attorney general, who complained that only Democrats have been charged to date. Twelve people with ties to the House Democratic Caucus in July were accused of running a multimillion-dollar political operation out of the Capitol.

"It's been mishandled. It's clearly one-sided at this point," said Morganelli.

Corbett recently has stepped up an investigation of House Republicans, but Morganelli said, "The voters have no idea whether Republicans did anything wrong going into the election."

Corbett, a Republican, had previously said he would not file any charges after Oct. 1, observing a month-long moratorium before the election. That was the policy he followed as U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh.

That left open the possibility that charges could be filed during the next eight days. The grand jury will meet once more before the election.

"I know this investigation very well," Corbett said at today's Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon."I know that my office cannot present to the grand jury ... in that one week ... all of the testimony and other evidence that will be necessary to complete the next phase of the investigation."

Asked about it after his speech, Corbett said, "It's just not ready."

Corbett acknowledged he would be criticized no matter which approach he took in the next phase of the investigation.

Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, said, "The governor believes if the attorney general has information that would level the playing field that it's important for voters and people to have that information" before the election.

Corbett in July filed charges against former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon and Mike Manzo, former chief of staff to current Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, D-Greene County. They were accused of directing a political operation with taxpayers' dollars. Ten others were charged including Rep. Sean Ramaley, D-Economy. All 12 defendants are charged with theft, conspiracy, and conflict of interest and face a preliminary hearing Oct. 7.

Veon, Manzo and some of the other defendants are accused of directing secret bonuses to legislative staffers who worked on campaigns.

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