After seven days of trial and a little more than two for jury deliberations, state Rep. Bill DeWeese was found guilty this morning on five of six felony counts of theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy.
In typical DeWeese fashion, he exited the courtroom and told reporters that he is seeking appeal, will continue his re-election bid, and will take his seat on the House floor tomorrow during the budget address from Gov. Tom Corbett (who brought the charges against the long-time lawmaker back in 2009).
"I believe in the court of public opinion I will be favorably received to some substantial degree," he said. "I will certainly continue to run for renomination and re-election."
Senior Deputy Attorney General Ken Brown had a stinging response to DeWeese's declaration: "He's a convicted felon and convicted felons, once they are sentenced, can't sit in the General Assembly.
"If he wants to spit in the face of the jury's verdict, I guess that's his perogative."
It appears that DeWeese could remain in his legislative seat until his April 24 sentencing date -- which coincides with the state's primary election date (though that may be in limbo at the moment...). His six-figure pension also will be forfeited, though it's unclear whether that will occur after today's conviction or sentencing.
In the meantime, the former House Speaker is aiming to be among the lawmakers who escort the governor into the chamber tomorrow. A copy of his email to House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, sent before this morning's verdict was announced, is below:
From: DeWeese, William
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2012 9:13 AM
To: Dermody, Frank
Dear Mr. Leader,
As the second most senior Member in the General Assembly, House and Senate combined, I would respectfully request to be appointed to the Committee that will be escorting the Governor to his annual budget address on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 AD.
Rep. Bill DeWeese