Thursday, November 12, 2009

The LuLac Edition #1004, Nov. 12th, 2009



Another day in the state of Pennsylvania and a few more indictments of public officials. What was long rumored for at least a year came to fruition today when Attorney General Tom Corbett indicted 10 officials in the Bonus Gate scandal. It was important to Corbett’s Gubernatorial bid that he come up with charges for his GOP brethren so that he would not be accused of being one sided in his bid. (Corbett arrested a few Democrats last summer in the first stage of Bonus gate.) The biggest fish in the investigation is Rep. John M. Perzel, the former speaker of the state House, who was charged today with 82 criminal counts. This state scandal involves a sophisticated, multi-million software programs paid for by taxpayers but allegedly used for political campaigning and retribution. The Philadelphia Republican is the most prominent political so far to be charged in Attorney General Tom Corbett's long-running investigation unofficially known as Bonus gate. Nine others with ties to the House Republican Caucus were also charged, including five former top Perzel aides and former Rep. Brett Feese of Lycoming County, who once headed the powerful House Appropriations Committee. At a 1 p.m. news conference, Corbett said the Bonus gate investigation, which started in early 2007, is continuing but declined to say whether the focus was on legislative Democrats or Republicans or both. The charges, laid out in a 188-page presentment, come 17 months after Corbett brought charges against a dozen House Democratic insiders - including former House Minority Whip Mike Veon - accusing them of misusing public funds for political purposes. Perzel, who represented Northeast Philadelphia in the state House for more than half his life, was charged theft criminal conspiracy and conflict of interest primarily for his role in building and using a more than $9 million taxpayer-funded computer software program, according to a grand jury's findings released today. Perzel said he was innocent and accused Corbett - a Republican, who is running for governor in 2010 - of "political opportunism." Also charged were:
Brian Preski, Perzel's former chief of staff
Paul Towhey, Perzel's current chief of staff.
Samuel "Buzz" Stokes, former campaign manager and Perzel's brother in law.
John Zimmerman, a Perzel legislative aide.
Don McClintock, a Perzel campaign aide.
Jill Seaman and Elmer "Al" Bowman, former aides to Rep. Feese.
Eric Ruth, former House Republican information technology deputy director and nephew of Perzel's wife. See the connections there of family and friends? How dare they say nepotism only happens in LuLac land.


I first met Bill Brace in 1982 when I joined the Killer Bees softball team league in the city of Wilkes Barre. The Killer Bees was an invention of Brace and his pals and represented the city through softball tourneys in the summer. Bill Brace was the Commissioner of the League and for two years I happily attended the bi weekly meetings at Boris’ Bar and played second string catcher behind a guy named Bubba Fine for the original Bees. Seeing Brace manage the league as well as expand the teams was a thing of managerial beauty. Within 10 years of its formation Brace expanded the league to 12 teams (I formed my own unit called The Lady Killers), gave thousands of dollars to local charities and held an annual Killer Bees dinner where Wilkes Barre athletes were honored. When Brace ran the Bees he served as City Clerk. After retiring from that job he hooked up with the County, then after retiring from there he landed a state job dealing with death certificates and public records. Many including me accused him of triple dipping especially in this area of high unemployment. Through the years, to his friends, political enemies and casual observers like me, Bill Brace seemed to live a charmed political life. (I lost touch with Brace after my team disbanded in 1991 after 6 seasons of not winning a single game. We did however have nice uniforms and were treated with more respect than we deserved from Brace and the Killer Bees league officials). During both the McLaughlin and Namey administrations Brace was at one time touted as a possible Mayor of the city. Brace did make a political run for Luzerne County Controller in 1997 being bested by Tom Pizzano who abandoned the position to run for Commissioner in 1999. But today all of that came crashing to an end when Brace was charged with taking a bribe in the latest corruption scandal arrest. Brace was employed as deputy county clerk at the time of the onerous action and this has a lot of implications regarding the senior management team employed there at the time. Another thing that strikes me is the glee that many residents seem to be taking in Brace’s demise. I chalk that up to his political jobs but also the fact that through his public life Brace has seemed to have skated on a smooth surface of ice. Today it melted. Here’s the official indictment from Federal Court:
Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; Janice Fedaryck, Acting Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General jointly announced today that an Information was filed today charging William Brace, 64, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, with corrupt receipt of a reward for official action, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, section 666(a)(1)(B). The Information alleges that Brace accepted a tailor-made, monogrammed suit of a value of approximately $1,500, intending to be rewarded in connection with support provided by Brace to a contract award while Brace was acting in his official capacity as a deputy clerk for Luzerne County. Brace faces a maximum of ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.


At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You, as always are way too kind and way too fair when it comews to the case of Mr. Brace.

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just read corbett's blog. are you two discusing the same person>

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Yonki.

Do you have the hots for Boris?


At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like a witch hunt to me. Bill, I hope all the individuals and organizations that benefited from your charitable works and contributions will give you support and rally around you.......EMG


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