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 Café 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. ••