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Veon trial to shift to defense today

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Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012
 

HARRISBURG --- Defense witnesses are expected to begin testifying today in the corruption trial of former Democratic legislative leader Mike Veon.

Dauphin County Judge Bruce Bratton ruled Tuesday that the trial will proceed on 15 felonies, dismissing defense attorney Dan Raynak's requests for Veon's acquittal.

Prosecutors rested their case against Veon, the former No. 2 leader in the House Democratic Caucus who is accused of misusing $165,000 from a Beaver County nonprofit he founded.

Veon, 55, maintains he did nothing wrong and is innocent. He faces charges of theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy. A jury of six men and six women will decide his fate.

Defense lawyers and prosecutors spent yesterday arguing over the charges and how to proceed.

The state Attorney General's Office accuses Veon of using money for the Beaver Initiative for Growth, or BIG, to pay for an extra legislative office in Midland, an office for the nonprofit in the South Side that he temporarily staffed with a legislative aide and for leveraging a more than $160,000 salary for his brother from a consultant who had contracts with BIG and House Democrats.

Veon is serving a six- to 14-year sentence at a state prison near Somerset. A jury convicted him in 2010 of 13 felonies and a misdemeanor for using public resources for political campaigns and having a conflict of interest as a legislator. He represented a Beaver County district for more than two decades.

Veon secured $10 million in taxpayer money for BIG over a decade. He formed the nonprofit to promote development in the Beaver Valley.

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