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Twelve jurors selected in Veon case

| Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

HARRISBURG • Twelve jurors have been selected in the trial of former House Minority Whip Mike Veon, who is accused of misusing money belonging to the Beaver Initiative for Growth.

Three alternates must be selected Wednesday in Dauphin County Court before the jury is seated. Judge Bruce Bratton sent instructions for the 12 hearing the case to report Wednesday afternoon.

On Wednesday morning, attorneys for both sides will state their position on a request by Roxbury News, LLC to allow use of Twitter ?throughout the trial.

Adam Klein, an attorney for Roxbury, noted that reporters issued tweets from the courtroom on events taking place during Veon's first trial in May 2010, when he was convicted of directing the use of $1.4 million in taxpayers' money for bonuses provided to legislative staffers who worked on campaigns.

A different judge heard the first Veon case.

Every effort is being made to keep the 2010 conviction from the current jury. Veon, 55, formerly of Beaver Falls, was dressed immaculately today in court, wearing a ?black suit, white shirt, gray tie and white kerchief from his breast pocket, just as he would have been during his heyday as a powerful legislative leader. His hair is whiter than it was 2010, but he did not appear unhealthy.

Klein also reminded the court that reporters tweeted from the preliminary hearing of two Penn State officials accused of failing to report sex crimes.

The Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure prohibits electronic transmissions from the courtroom. It was last amended in 2002 when no one could have anticipated a "journalistic tool" like Twitter, Klein argued. A proposed rule to the Supreme Court would ban the use of sites like Twitter from the courtroom, but until that's decided the First Amendment to the Constitution "should control and the use of Twitter should be allowed," Klein said.

Veon steered $10 million to the nonprofit over a decade. He is accused of theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy. The ex-lawmaker allegedly used the nonprofit's money for his own personal and political use while serving as a member of the state House, according to a statewide grand jury presentment.

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