The latest on former House Speaker John Perzel's guilty plea, from our breaking news page:
Former state House Speaker John Perzel pleaded guilty to reduced charges this afternoon, making him the fifth and most high-profile of the corruption probe's defendants to cooperate with state prosecutors.
The former northeast Philadelphia lawmaker now faces penalties related to eight counts of conflict of interest, theft and conspiracy, a sharp reduction from the 82 counts with which he was initially charged.
His decision to no longer contest the charges is seen as a significant victory for the state attorney general's office, which alleges that Mr. Perzel masterminded a scheme centered around spending millions in public funds on computer software primarily used for House GOP campaigns.
Mr. Perzel, 61, had consistently proclaimed his innocence since being charged in December 2009. He made no comments about the case to reporters following the hearing, instead releasing a statement in which he apologized for his actions.
"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," he said in the statement.
"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. ???You had a right to expect better from me, and I am sorry that I let you down."
Photo: Perzel entering Dauphin County courthouse this afternoon. (Via the Harrisburg Patriot-News)