PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The second corruption trial of former state House Democratic Whip Michael Veon is now under way in Harrisburg.
He is already serving at least six years in prison and could face more time if convicted in this case.
Veon and a former aide are charged with misuse of some $10 million of state money earmarked to help struggling Beaver County communities.
The $10 million the state pumped into the Beaver Initiative for Growth was intended to foster development in economically hard-hit towns like Beaver Falls.
But in announcing the indictment three years ago – then-Attorney General Tom Corbett said the money never got there.
“The grand jury determined that the Beaver Initiative for Growth was established for the political and personal benefit of Mike Veon,” he said. “Every dollar received and spent by the Beaver Initiative for Growth was from the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.”
In opening arguments, the state prosecutors highlighted a $1 million no-bid contract that Veon gave to a contributor – a company called Delta Development.
Delta then hired Veon’s brother to a $130,000 a year job, but the state says there was no public benefit.
“The grand jury determined Delta Development performed little to no work for the funds that they received from the Beaver Initiative for Growth,” Corbett said.
The indictment further alleged that as in Bonusgate, Veon doled out big money to campaign operatives — and even used it to open two political offices — one in Beaver County and one of above a cigar store on Pittsburgh’s South Side.
“These offices were never staffed by an employee of the Beaver Initiative for Growth but were used primarily as legislative offices for campaign purposes.”
Veon’s defense attorney argued that Veon himself never profited from BIG and seeks to discredit a former aide turned government witness.