PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Bill DeWeese — once the top Democrat in the state House of Representatives — will be released from prison Sunday afternoon.
Former House Speaker DeWeese, convicted of using his legislative office for political purposes, is the most recent former lawmaker to get out of jail.
DeWeese, a Waynesburg Democrat, is the third to be freed of five state legislators serving time for public corruption charges.
He was convicted in 2012 of five felony counts.
Pa. Sen. Jane Orie, a McCandless Republican, was convicted that same year of 14 counts, and former House Speaker John Perzel, a Philadelphia Republican, pled guilty to eight counts in 2012.
Despite sentences for each of 30 months, all three are being released after serving approximately two years or less in jail.
“Whenever you behave yourself when you’re in jail, whenever you do all the right things you’re supposed to do, you get a benefit and you can be paroled for only 25 percent of your time will be cut off your sentence,” says defense attorney Phil DiLucente.
DiLucente says he’s not surprised that DeWeese, Orie, and Perzel served relatively light sentences.
In contrast, former Pa. Rep. Mike Veon, a Beaver Falls Democrat — the first to be charged and convicted in Bonusgate in 2010 — has two more years on his minimum six-year sentence in jail.
“I cannot explain the sentence given to Mike Veon in this case,” Veon’s attorney Joel Sansone told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday. “It is an outrage. It is longer than any other sentence.”
Sansone sees the longer sentence as part of then-Attorney General Tom Corbett’s campaign for governor.
“While some of these sentences may seem inconsistent to the public, they’re very consistent when you look at the sentencing guidelines,” he said.
The Parole Board says — with good behavior — Veon is eligible for parole in 15 months in June of 2015.
The last remaining jailed lawmaker – Pa. Rep. Brett Feese, a Lycoming Republican — is eligible then, too.
First-time, non-violent offenders can usually be paroled after serving 75 percent of their minimum sentence.
As for DeWeese, he should be free to leave his medium security prison in northeastern Pennsylvania on Sunday.