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Corbett personally approved $3 million grant for Sandusky-founded charity

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Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011

HARRISBURG — Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, the former attorney general who launched the Penn State child abuse investigation, personally approved a $3 million state grant for a non-profit founded by Jerry Sandusky because there are not — and never were — any criminal allegations against the charity, a spokesman said today.

The grant for the state's share of a new building for Second Mile had initially been approved by former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell but was among a large batch of still uncommitted funds Corbett decided to review after taking over as governor in January. Corbett approved it in July, four months before a statewide grand jury issued criminal allegations against Sandusky and two Penn State officials who allegedly failed to report the crimes.

Sandusky, the former defensive coach who helped develop Penn State's reputation as "Linebacker U," last week was charged with 40 counts of sex abuse for allegedly molesting young boys he met through the Second Mile, a charity for underprivileged kids.

"He (Corbett) couldn't block that (grant) from going forward because of what he knew as attorney general," said Kevin Harley, Corbett's press secretary. "He couldn't let on to anyone (including the governor's office) what he knew. Second Mile hasn't been charged with anything."

The grant is now on hold and the future of the charity is uncertain. Sandusky says he is innocent and is not a pedophile.

Corbett's explanation "doesn't make sense to me," said Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hillls. Since Corbett knew about the investigation since he was attorney general, he should have flagged the Second Mile grant right away, DeLuca said.

"I don't know," said Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill County, when asked whether it rang true to him. "People will be sorting that out for weeks or months."

The scandal has rocked Pennsylvania's flagship university, resulting in the firing of former President Graham Spanier and legendary football coach Joe Paterno. It is a national news story dominating coverage on TV networks, cable TV and newspapers across the country.

Corbett's budget office, headed by Budget Secretary Charles Zogby, reviewed and approved The Second Mile grant. After the budget office review, Corbett reviewed the grant, Harley said. "Everything goes through the governor. He does approve the RACP (Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program) grants," Harley said.

Though Corbett launched the Sandusky investigation as attorney general, he was not aware of the details since January when he took over as governor, Harley said. He would get broad updates from State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, the former head of investigations in the attorney general's office, on the status but no details, Harley said.

There were no allegations of wrongdoing against personnel of Second Mile or the non-profit itself, Harley said.

Further details on the total amount of RACP grants approved and pending were not immediately available.

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