Monday, April 16, 2012
"I WANTED TO STOP HAVING THIS ENGULF MY ENTIRE LIFE"
Since Manzo was fired from state government five years ago, and most major felonies carry a five-year statute of limitations, we view the prosecutors' claims with skepticism. Most likely, their claims are simply a ploy to head off criticism of Manzo's sentence as too lenient.
If Tweets from the courtroom are to be believed, little emphasis was placed on Manzo's "star" testimony in the 2010 trial of Mike Veon and three staffers. Manzo's testimony in that case was so riddled with inconsistencies that the OAG temporarily became a laughingstock in the Dauphin County legal community. Lawyers handling other cases in the courthouse made time to stop by Judge Lewis' courtroom to see for themselves whether the rumors of prosecutorial bungling were true.
Ironically, Manzo testified in that trial that he'd pleaded guilty because "I wanted to stop having this engulf my entire life" Now, 3½ years after that plea, he's still engulfed, and will be for another seven years. Copping a plea probably seemed at the time like an easy way out. Now he'll spend more than a year in prison (probably 13.5 months according to Pennsylvania's Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive guidelines) and most of the following six years on parole or probation. Rumors have flown since Manzo's October 2008 preliminary hearing testimony (when he let slip that his unindicted former boss, H. William DeWeese, was complicit in the bonus scheme) that Manzo had been promised no jail time in exchange for his cooperation.
It was easy to believe, as no one could imagine why else Manzo would agree to plead guilty to 10 felony charges. No other defendant pleaded to as many counts, and of the defendants who went to trial, only Mike Veon - who originally faced more than 50 charges - was convicted of as many.
Former House Speaker John Perzel was permitted to plead to only eight counts. And though the "Computergate" case dwarfed "Bonusgate" in size and scope, Perzel will be off parole before Manzo is.