Northeast Times

Perzel gets the boot from Holy Family’s education center

In the wake of former Pennsylvania House Speak­er John Perzel’s guilty plea, Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity has re­moved his name from one of its prom­in­ent build­ings.

The former John M. Perzel Edu­ca­tion and Tech­no­logy Cen­ter is now simply the Edu­ca­tion and Tech­no­logy Cen­ter.

The $19 mil­lion build­ing opened in Au­gust 2005 and was named in hon­or of Perzel, who helped Holy Fam­ily — which is not loc­ated in his former dis­trict — ob­tain state fund­ing while he was ma­jor­ity lead­er and speak­er.

The cen­ter fea­tures an aud­it­or­i­um, classrooms, com­puter labor­at­or­ies, stu­dent and fac­ulty lounges, the Ti­ger Cub Caf&ea­cute; and an art gal­lery and stu­di­os. It is home to the School of Edu­ca­tion and the uni­versity’s co­oper­at­ive edu­ca­tion of­fice.

Perzel, 61, pleaded guilty on Aug. 31 to eight counts of theft, con­flict of in­terest and con­spir­acy. He’ll be sen­tenced at a later date, and the best-case scen­ario might be a jail term of 14 months.

Then-Pennsylvania At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Tom Corbett an­nounced charges against Perzel and nine oth­ers in Novem­ber 2009, fol­low­ing a grand jury in­vest­ig­a­tion. They were charged with us­ing pub­lic funds for elec­tion pur­poses.

So far, Perzel and four oth­ers have pleaded guilty. The former law­maker’s sen­ten­cing will likely take place after the tri­als of five co-de­fend­ants. He’ll prob­ably testi­fy in those pro­ceed­ings.

Perzel, who is ex­pec­ted to for­feit his pen­sion, lost a re-elec­tion bid last year to Demo­crat Kev­in Boyle.

As ma­jor­ity lead­er and speak­er, Perzel de­livered mil­lions of dol­lars to the May­fair Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, which built a $2.8 mil­lion com­munity cen­ter that opened in Janu­ary 2006 at St. Vin­cent and Bat­tersby streets.

The CDC named the build­ing the “John M. Perzel Com­munity Cen­ter.” It fea­tures two gym­nas­i­ums and oth­er space for vari­ous activ­it­ies.

The CDC suffered fund­ing losses when Rep. Den­nis O’Bri­en toppled Perzel for speak­er in Janu­ary 2007. The city De­part­ment of Re­cre­ation now op­er­ates the cen­ter, with the CDC as a part-time ten­ant.

No de­cision has been made on wheth­er Perzel’s name will come off the build­ing.

The North­east Com­munity Cen­ter, at 2840 Holme Ave., opened in 1997 with Perzel’s as­sist­ance.

The fa­cil­ity has named its fit­ness cen­ter after Perzel, though there is no ex­ter­i­or sign. Ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or Stan Co­hen said the build­ing could nev­er have opened without Perzel’s aid, and he has no plans to change the name of the fit­ness cen­ter, un­less the board of dir­ect­ors ob­jects. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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