Three co-defendants in Perzel case plead guilty

As former state House Speak­er John Perzel awaits tri­al next month on cor­rup­tion charges, three co-de­fend­ants were in court last week plead­ing guilty.

Those en­ter­ing guilty pleas were Samuel “Buzz” Stokes, Perzel’s broth­er-in-law and former of­fice aide; Paul Towhey, his former chief of staff; and Don Mc­Clin­tock, a cam­paign aide.

The three are ex­pec­ted to co­oper­ate in the tri­als of Perzel and six oth­ers and will be sen­tenced at a later date.

Jury se­lec­tion is ex­pec­ted to be­gin Sept. 6 in a Dauph­in County court­house. The tri­al will likely be­gin on Sept. 12 in front of Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Richard A. Lewis and last for sev­er­al months.

Perzel, 61, is charged with us­ing $10 mil­lion in pub­lic money for cam­paign pur­poses.

The former law­maker was charged in Novem­ber 2009 fol­low­ing a grand jury in­vest­ig­a­tion.

Perzel has main­tained his in­no­cence, con­tend­ing that state em­ploy­ees per­formed cam­paign work on their own time and were paid by his cam­paign, Friends of John Perzel, not with state funds.

Elec­ted in 1978, Perzel served in House lead­er­ship as ma­jor­ity lead­er from 1995 to 2003, when he be­came speak­er. He held that po­s­i­tion through 2006.

Perzel last year lost a re-elec­tion bid to Demo­crat Kev­in Boyle.

Perzel, who lives on Brous Av­en­ue in Lex­ing­ton Park, re­mains Re­pub­lic­an lead­er of the 64th Ward. A long­time ally, Bob Cum­mings, was re­cently elec­ted chair­man of the ward. ••

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