Our friends at Capitolwire are having a good week already: first they broke news (even to legislators) about a proposed lucrative tax credit for Shell Oil Company, and hours later on Monday, they had an even better bombshell for state political junkies:
Former state House Speakers Bill DeWeese and John Perzel currently are roommates at Camp Hill State Prison.
Yup, the Greene County Democrat and the Philadelphia Republican, both convicted in the attorney general's Bonusgate probe for misusing state dollars for campaigning, are awaiting their final placement among the state's correction facilities.
In the meantime, the once-powerful duo are bunking together and cracking jokes in the dining hall. Capitolwire notes that's an improvement for DeWeese, who was initially rooming with Mike Manzo, his former chief of staff and a prosecution witness against him during his January trial:
State Corrections Department spokeswoman Sue Bensinger confirmed the two and Manzo are at Camp Hill and housed in the same 120-prisoner unit. The prison system, understandably does not saying who is cellmating with whom.
Asked why Manzo would be paired with DeWeese, when his testimony helped imprison the former Speaker, Bensinger said it would not happen with violent criminals but sometimes would with non-violent offenders.
Asked if it wasn't odd to have two ex-Speakers rooming together, Bensinger said: "It's an unusual occurrence to have this many former lawmakers there at the same time. Very unusual."
DeWeese is reportedly in high spirits and has not lost the charm that made him popular in Harrisburg (on his way into prison, he stated his goals were to obey the rules, stay in shape and make new friends):
Another reason might be moments like a recent trip to the prison dining room, where a guard teased DeWeese: “Here comes Sticky Fingers.”
DeWeese roared with laughter, as he tells the story and responded: “I’m Sticky Fingers?”
He pointed at himself: “They accused me of [misusing] $100,000.”
He pointed at Perzel: “They accused him of $10 million! He’s the Sticky Fingers!”
Perzel, guards, other inmates crack up.