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Veon case jury deliberates all day with no verdict

| Tuesday, March 16, 2010

HARRISBURG — Jurors in the public corruption trial of a former top Pennsylvania House Democrat and three of his former aides deliberated all day yesterday without reaching a verdict.

The eight-woman, four-man panel spent about nine hours behind closed doors before quitting for the day just after 5 p.m. Before leaving, they thanked the judge for moving them into a more spacious room. Monday's session followed about two hours of deliberations on Friday, the first day the panel was given the case after nearly six weeks of testimony.

Earlier Monday, Dauphin County Judge Richard Lewis resolved a dispute between defense attorneys and prosecutors over the types of exhibits that jurors were allowed to see. Eventually, nine large banker's boxes of exhibits were hauled into the deliberations room.

Lewis allowed the jury to get e-mails and other documents that had been shown or read to them during the trial or those that were directly described by a witness, as well as a second category of records deemed relevant to the charges in the case. He did not permit documents that prosecutors characterized as having been more broadly described.

In response to a note from the jurors, Lewis reread to them many of the jury instructions he had issued on Friday, including the elements of the various charges. The note also said jurors had questions about focusing on the four defendants as opposed to witnesses and others who received immunity, and sought guidance on the role of the jury foreman.

Former House Democratic whip Mike Veon of Beaver County and co-defendants Steve Keefer, Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink and Brett Cott are accused of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest in what prosecutors have described as a wide-ranging scheme to siphon off taxpayer resources to wage political campaigns and underwrite other illegal activities.

Defense attorneys have argued that the evidence against their clients is weak and that some of the alleged infractions are so minimal as to not be criminal.

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