Former speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, John Perzel pleaded guilty in the so-called “Bonsugate” public corruption investigation.
Perzel is the highest-ranking state politician to admit guilt in a four-and-a-half-year probe.
The Philadelphia ex-Speaker entered the plea Wednesday to two counts of conflict of interest, two counts of theft and four counts of conspiracy. He left the courthouse without commenting.
Later, in an e-mailed statement Perzel said he bore responsibility for improprieties in the spending of money he oversaw and apologized to the people of Pennsylvania, his family and friends.
“You had a right to expect better from me, and I am sorry that I let you down,” said Perzel.
Prosecutors say Perzel was at the center of a scheme to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on computer technology for the benefit of GOP political campaigns.
“It was up to me to see that taxpayer funds were spent only for the betterment of the people of Pennsylvania, and not for my political benefit of that of my party,'' Perzel said.
In his appearance before a Dauphin County judge, he also agreed to cooperate with state prosecutors.
Here is the full text of Perzel’s statement:
I said from the start of this case that I would fight the charges against me, and I have done so for nearly every day of the last two years. It is a fight that has taken an enormous toll on my family and the friends who have been so steadfast in their support.
I have decided today that my fight has come to an end. The truth is that as the legislative leader of my caucus, I oversaw the spending of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds, and I bear the responsibility for the improprieties that occurred in the spending of those dollars. It was up to me to see that taxpayer funds were spent only for the betterment of the people of Pennsylvania, and not for my political benefit of that of my party.
To the people of Pennsylvania; to the voters who put their trust in me for the 32 years that I had the privilege of serving the 172nd District; and to my family and friends, I want to express my profound regret for my actions. You had a right to expect better from me, and I am sorry that I let you down.