A former Pennsylvania lawmaker charged in a public corruption scandal said he didn't know that an ex-aide had performed campaign work on taxpayers' dime.
Testifying in his own defense on the fourth day of his trial before a Dauphin County jury on Thursday, former Rep. Stephen Stetler contradicted testimony by a former legislative aide who said the lawmaker was out of the Harrisburg office for weeks at a time working on various election campaigns.
The aide, John Paul Jones, claimed that Stetler knew he was illegally doing political activity on state time. Jones said he falsified comp-time slips and the office manager helped in the cover-up. Several other prosecution witnesses also testified that they openly did campaign work in Stetler's office.
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Stetler called Jones' allegations "outrageous'' and testified that he told all his employees "face to face'' to keep campaign activity separate from their legislative responsibilities.
Stetler has pleaded not guilty to four counts of theft and one count each of conspiracy and conflict of interest. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.
The former York County lawmaker was chairman of both the House Democratic Policy Committee and the House Democratic Campaign Committee during the 2004-2006 period in which prosecutors say the illegal activity occurred.
Stelter, 62, also served as state revenue secretary for about a year in then-Gov. Ed Rendell's administration.
Stetler is the last of 25 people charged in a wide-ranging investigation by the state attorney general's office to stand trial. No new charges have been filed since 2009, but officials say the investigation remains open.
Twelve Democrats and nine Republicans have been convicted or pleaded guilty. Two defendants were acquitted, and charges against a third were dropped.