Post-Gazette: Bonus scandal defendants arraigned

It what may be the most significant story of my young journalism career, here a double byline for a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This breaking story appeared on the Web and an extensive follow up will appear in tomorrow’s edition.

HARRISBURG – Preliminary arraignments were held today for 11 people charged in the state bonus scandal, in which state Rep. Michael Veon, current Rep. Sean Ramaley and 10 current and former Democratic staffers allegedly conspired to divert millions of dollars in state resources, including more than $1 million in illegal pay bonuses.

The charges stem from two grand jury presentments unveiled yesterday in which jurors said Mr. Veon and the staff members conspired to arrange hefty year-end bonuses to House employees who worked on political campaigns over a three-year period. Mr. Ramaley is accused of working full time on his 2004 House campaign in Beaver County while drawing a taxpayer salary as a member of Mr. Veon’s staff.

During the preliminary arraignments, the defendants hear, and are asked if they understand, the charges against them. They do not enter pleas.

The first preliminary arraignment took place yesterday for Jeff Foreman, an aide to House Majority Whip Keith McCall, D-Carbon. Mr. Foreman surrended to authorities even as Attorney General Tom Corbett held a press conference outlining the case. Mr. Foreman, who was charged with conspiracy, theft, and conflict of interest, was released on $50,000 unsecured bail.

Read the rest on Post-Gazette.com.

Image of former House Democratic Leader Mike Veon, D-Beaver Falls, by Bradley C. Bower via Post-Gazette.