HARRISBURG – Former state representative Bill DeWeese cites procedural errors by judges and misconduct by prosecutors as grounds for an appeal of his conviction on corruption charges in a brief filed Tuesday in Superior Court.
DeWeese has asked the court to grant him a new trial or to overturn the verdict of a Dauphin County jury which in February found him guilty of using state employees and resources for political purposes.
In the brief, DeWeese contends the trial judge erred by limiting the number of defense witnesses who testified and by refusing to allow his lawyer to confront a prosecution witness with evidence DeWeese claimed would have undermined the witness’ credibility.
DeWeese also claims Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover erred at trial in refusing to instruct jurors that campaign work done during a legislative day is not illegal if done on leave time.
He also maintains his trial should have been moved to Western Pennsylvania, where he lived, and state prosecutors committed misconduct at his preliminary hearing by reading only selective passages from his grand jury testimony.
DeWeese, 62, represented the 50th Legislative District for 36 years before he resigned in April prior to sentencing. For a good part of his time in office, he held leadership positions, including a two-year stint as House speaker.
DeWeese was found guilty on Feb. 6 of five felony counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest for using state employees and resources for his election campaigns.
He was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison on April 24, the same day he received the Democratic nomination for re-election to the House. DeWeese was later removed from the ballot by Commonwealth Court because of his felony conviction.
DeWeese is now serving his sentence in the state Correctional Institution at Retreat in Luzerne County. Though sentenced to a minimum of 2 1/2 years in prison, DeWeese could be released earlier under the state’s Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive program.
If DeWeese completes his required minimum sentence, and receives the RRRI reduction, he will be released in March 2014, according to the state Department of Corrections.
DeWeese had filed a notice of appeal in Superior Court in August. According to the court’s online docket, the commonwealth must file its brief by Jan. 17.