A look at some key moments in Stephen Stetler's career and the corruption case against him.
Created by ydrsn on Jun 14, 2012
Last updated: 06/27/12 at 01:40 PM
Tags: politics corruption pennsylvania
A Dauphin County court jury found Stephen Stetler guilty on all six counts in his political corruption trial.
Each of four theft counts brings 9 to 16 months in prison, meaning Stetler could face years in prison. The remaining counts are likely to result in probation.
Photo: Stetler leaves the courthouse after the guilty verdict.
A Dauphin County court jury found Stephen Stetler guilty on all six charges in his political corruption trial.
A prosecutor said the four theft counts each carry a 9- to 16-month sentence, meaning Stetler could face years in prison.
Photo: Stetler leaves the courthouse after the verdict.
Seven men and five women will decide the fate of former York state Rep. Stephen Stetler who is charged with misuse of public funds during his years as head of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.
Stetler, 62, is charged with conflict of interest, theft and conspiracy. His trial is the last of the defendants arrested following a years-long investigation that began in 2007 under then attorney general, now Gov. Tom Corbett. Stetler remains free on $50,000 bail.
Opening arguments and testimony are scheduled to begin on June 18 before President Judge Todd Hoover in Dauphin County court.
Source: York Daily Record, June 8, 2012
Photo: Former state Rep. Stephen Stetler, left, and his attorney Joshua Lock, leave the court room Wednesday for lunch during the first day of jury selection for Stetler's trial at the Dauphin County courthouse. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - KATE PENN)
A record number of state lawmakers, former lawmakers and aides have faced prosecution over the past several years, according to G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.
"This is unprecedented" in modern Pennsylvania history, Madonna said.
That's largely the result of a state attorney general's investigation that started under now-Gov. Tom Corbett in 2007 and has led to charges against 25 people -- including party leaders -- connected to the Democratic and Republican caucuses from the state House of Representatives.
"They have a stunningly high percentage of convictions," Madonna said of the attorney general's office, adding that in the majority of cases, defendants have either been convicted or pleaded guilty.
The investigation led to a jury conviction and a six- to 14-year prison sentence for former Pennsylvania House Democratic whip Mike Veon. Former Republican House Speaker John Perzel agreed to testify for the prosecution, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to between 2 1/2 and five years in prison.
The investigation also led to guilty pleas and convictions against less well-known people, such as Elmer "Al" Bowman of Red Lion. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation, and ordered to pay a fine and do community service, after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge. The attorney general said he developed a computer program for the benefit of Republican candidates that cost taxpayers $1.4 million.
Source: York Sunday News, June 3, 2012
Local attorneys say former state Rep. Stephen Stetler should be concerned but not disheartened by the conviction of state Rep. Bill DeWeese, Stetler's former co-defendant, on Bonusgate charges Monday.
A Dauphin County jury convicted DeWeese, 61, a past majority leader, of directing or condoning legislative aides to work on Democratic campaigns while being paid by the state. He was found guilty of three counts of theft and single charges of criminal conspiracy and conflict of interest.
He was acquitted of one count of theft and faces a maximum penalty of 33 years in prison and $70,000 in fines.
Former state Rep. Mike Veon was convicted of Bonusgate charges in 2010 and was sentenced to six to 14 years in prison, fined $37,000 and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution.
Stetler, 62, is confronted with similar allegations and faces charges of conflict of interest, criminal conspiracy and four counts of theft when he goes to trial in April.
Source: York Daily Record, Feb. 7, 2012
A Dauphin County judge ordered separate trials Monday for former York County Rep. Stephen Stetler and former House Speaker H. William DeWeese on their Bonusgate charges.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, which is prosecuting the Bonusgate defendants, had filed documents advising the court of the office's intention to prosecute the two men together.
Both Stetler, 61, who represented York County from 1991 to 2006, and DeWeese responded with motions in November requesting separate trials. President Judge Todd A. Hoover granted those requests Monday, according to court dockets.
Hoover denied a request from DeWeese aide Sharon Rodavich for a trial separate from DeWeese.
Source: York Daily Record,
March 22, 2011
Stephen Stetler was ordered to stand trial after a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Dauphin County court.
Former Democratic state House aides testified they worked on political campaigns on state time. But Stetler's defense attorney, Joshua Lock, said the charges against the former state representative from York were "paper thin."
According to the state Attorney General's Office, House aides were encouraged to "bank" their overtime hours and then use that compensation time to "volunteer" on specific Democratic campaigns.
But the attorney general's office contends the "volunteers" remained on the state payroll while doing campaign work.
Source: York Daily Record, July 15, 2010
Stephen Stetler, 60, of York, is scheduled to appear before Dauphin County District Judge William C. Wenner July 14 and 15 to address charges of conflict of interest, four counts of theft and criminal conspiracy resulting from the so-called Bonusgate scandal.
As of June 15, 107 contributors had given $107,595 to the Stephen Stetler Legal Defense Fund, created in April by five prominent York County citizens: Tom Wolf, Lori Mitrick, Louis Appell, Jr., Jane Zarfoss and Bill Shipley III.
Source: York Sunday News, May 9, 2010
Five prominent York County leaders create a legal defense fund for Stephen Stetler, the former state representative who is facing public corruption charges.
The five are Tom Wolf, Lori Mitrick, Louis Appell, Jr., Jane Zarfoss and Bill Shipley III.
Here are short bios about them, from April 2010:
Louis J. Appell Jr.: The former CEO of Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff led the company for 50 years before selling off the pottery division in 2005 and media division in 2006. He has been active in numerous civic organizations, including Better York, the South George Street Community Partnership, the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center and 10,000 Friends.
He is scheduled to receive the Patron Award Thursday at the Governor's Awards for the Arts.
Lori Mitrick: A Republican county commissioner from 2004 to 2007, Mitrick is well known for having backed the county's Lauxmont Farms project. She had previously served as a Springettsbury Township supervisor. She now teaches political science at York College.
Bill Shipley III: The president of Shipley Energy has served on the boards of several civic organizations.
Tom Wolf: The CEO of Wolf runs the building supply company his family founded in 1843. He served as state Secretary of Revenue from February 2007 to November 2008, and briefly considered running for governor. He has been involved in several civic organizations, including Better York.
Jane Zarfoss: A community figure who has served on the boards of many local service organizations, she is also a supporter of the arts community in York County.
Source: York Daily Record, April 8, 2010
In a court motion, Stephen Stetler argues that Attorney General Tom Corbett was prosecuting the former state representative from York for political reasons -- and that Corbett himself used public resources for campaign work.
Source: York Daily Record, March 26, 2010
Former state Rep. Stephen Stetler made his way through a phalanx of cameras as he left his arraignment Wednesday morning in Dauphin County. Stetler, 60, who resigned as commonwealth revenue secretary Tuesday morning hours before being criminally charged in the ongoing Bonusgate scandal, offered no statement in the courtroom crowded with reporters. At the request of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, District Judge William Wenner set Stetler’s bail at $50,000 unsecured and ordered him to have no contact with any witnesses in the case. ... Before the arraignment, Stetler’s attorney, Joshua Lock, said he could not comment on the validity of the charges but said “it would be fair to say . . . under the U.S. Constitution” the former state representative had not violated any laws. Source: By Rick Lee Daily Record/Sunday News York Daily Record Thursday,December 17, 2009 Rep. Stephen Stetler leaves Magisterial District Judge William Wenner office in Dauphin County Wednesday after bail had been set at $50,000. He is to have no contact with witnesses. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 24. YORK DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL
Attorney General Tom Corbett details charges against former state Rep. Stephen Stetler. Stetler was charged Tuesday with six counts related to having state employees do campaign work on state time. He resigned as state revenue secretary the same day. He was charged along with former House Speaker Bill DeWeese; and DeWeese aide Sharon Rodavich. Stetler, who was chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee from 2002 to 2006, was charged with conflict of interest, four counts of theft and criminal conspiracy to commit theft. The grand jury presentment that recommended charges against Stetler said he authorized spending public funds in the form of state employee salaries and other expenses for researching Republican candidates; directed legislative employees to perform political work on state time; and used legislative personnel for political fundraising purposes. Source: York Daily Record, Dec. 16, 2009 Photo: State Attorney General Tom Corbett answers questions after detailing charges brought against former Democratic York Rep. Stephen Stetler and H. William DeWeese during a news conference Tuesday in Harrisburg. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)
John Paul Jones worked in Stetler’s office for a year starting in 2002 and then again from May 2004 until Stetler left the state House in 2006.
Jones told the grand jury that Stetler required him to do campaign work on legislative time, according to the documents, and that he was assigned to work on Brenner’s mayoral campaign.
Jones was sent to Stetler’s district office in York for the work, the documents state.
“Jones remained at Stetler’s District Office in York for over a month, spending at least half of his time on the Brenner campaign,” the documents state. “He did not put in for leave and simply performed the campaign work during his normal work time.”
Brenner said Jones worked on the 2005 mayoral campaign as a volunteer.
“My understanding was he was taking a leave of absence to work on the campaign,” the mayor said. “Frankly, it was not uncommon for both Republicans and Democrats to do that.”
Brenner, who leaves office in January, emphasized Jones was not paid by the campaign but was a volunteer “like hundreds of others.”
Source: Daily Record/Sunday News
Source: York Daily Record
Wednesday,December 16, 2009
The attorney general’s office filed charges against 10 people connected to the House Republican caucus, alleging that they used more than $10 million in taxpayer money for computer-assisted schemes designed to get Republicans elected in state races. Source: York Sunday News June 3, 2012
Lawyers for former state Rep. Mike Veon in the state Democratic House's Bonusgate scandal filed documents alleging that York resident Steve Stetler, former state representative and current state secretary of revenue, did the same thing Veon is accused of -- running campaign operations at taxpayer expense.
In an apparent attempt to show he is the subject of selective prosecution in the state Democratic House's Bonusgate scandal, Veon filed almost 600 pages of pretrial exhibits in his criminal conflict of interest case to support his claim that working on election campaigns on government time has been a standard practice.
The pretrial motion does not allege any legal wrongdoing by Stetler but does imply his alleged use of government staffers for campaign work was commonplace and no different from the allegations against Veon.
Source: York Sunday News, June 28, 2009
Gov. Ed Rendell nominated former York state Rep. Steve Stetler to replace Tom Wolf as state revenue secretary. Wolf, 59, a Democrat from Mount Wolf, had announced his resignation. Stetler took over as acting secretary Dec. 1 at a time when the troubled economy was sapping state revenues. Stetler acknowledged “the challenge is great” but said the Revenue Department has a great staff in place. Source: Richard Fellinger, Harrisburg bureau, York Daily Record, Nov. 13, 2008
The attorney general’s office filed multiple counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest against 12 people connected to the House Democratic caucus, alleging that they participated in a system in which state employees would do campaign work and get compensated with taxpayer-funded bonuses. Source: York Sunday News, June 3, 2012
The York County Democratic Party’s executive committee chose Eugene DePasquale as its state representative candidate for the 95th District to replace Stephen Stetler, who had announced his resignation. DePasquale was one of eight Democratic candidates contending for the seat. Twenty-two members of the executive committee voted for him after a closed-door discussion. DePasquale would have to win the seat in the November election to continue as state representative. Source: York Daily Record, Aug. 8, 2006 Photo: Eugene DePasquale, right, jokes with Cameron Texter outside Democratic Headquarters on West Market Street in York after members of the Democratic executive committee voted DePasquale the candidate to replace state Rep. Steve Stetler, D-York. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS-JASON PLOTKIN)
State Rep. Steve Stetler of York, the only Democrat in York County's delegation to the Pennsylvania statehouse, announced his resignation.
Stetler's state House of Representatives district, the 95th, includes York, the township of Spring Garden and part of the township of West Manchester, and the boroughs of North York and West York.
Stetler said he will take over as executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy League, a nonprofit organization with the mission of bringing civic and business interests together for the betterment of the state.
Stetler had been in the statehouse for almost 16 years. Stetler also gave up a House leadership position - policy chairman for the Democratic caucus.
Stetler said he was excited about the new opportunity, although he will miss leading the district.
"I have enjoyed this job for 15½ years," Stetler said. "It's been a lot of fun. I've worked with a lot of great people. It's been very rewarding."
Source: York Daily Record, July 19, 2006
A grand jury presentment alleges Stetler illegally used public employees and resources not only for state races, but also for York Mayor John Brenner's 2005 race.
A Stetler staffer named John Paul Jones testified that Stetler assigned him to work on Brenner's mayoral campaign in 2005. Jones allegedly worked out of Stetler's York district office for more than a month, spending at least half of his time on Brenner's campaign.
G. Terry Madonna, the director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, said the allegation of involvement in a local race goes beyond the caucus or the campaign committee's traditional role.
"That's the first time I've heard anyone with the state caucus had been asked to work in races other than legislative campaigns," Madonna said.
Source: York Daily Record, Dec. 16, 2009
Photo: John Brenner celebrates his victory with Cameron Texter, his wife Adrienne, his son Sam, and Toni Smith at his campaign headquarters Tuesday night. (YORK DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS-KRISTIN MURPHY)
The charges against Stephen Stetler go back to the 2004 election, when he was serving as leader of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, the political arm of the House Democratic Caucus.
The grand jury presentment described testimony from two recent college graduates who ended up working for the HDCC soon after Stetler took over: Executive Director Daniel Wiedemer and Political Director Jessica Walls. The two testified before a grand jury that caucus employees were already doing opposition research when they came on board.
They testified that they approached Stetler before the 2004 election with concerns the research wasn't good enough and suggested the caucus hire an outside firm to do it.
Walls testified that Stetler asked her why they needed to pay an outside firm when they "had a perfectly good system in place already?"
According to the presentment, Stetler marshaled teams of caucus employees to do research and prepare reports about opposition candidates while they were on the clock.
The HDCC under Stetler's watch also allegedly used public resources such as the House Democratic Caucus' $1,569-per-month computerized LexisNexis account.
According to the presentment, a number of witnesses testified that the HDCC used caucus employees for grassroots campaign work such as knocking on doors and working phone banks.
Prosecutors allege the employees were pressured to sit at their desks, doing nothing, long after normal working hours. They would thus build up fraudulent comp time to pay them for their campaign work.
The alleged practices were apparently already in place when Stetler took over, according to later comments by Tom Corbett. But he said that doesn't let Stetler off the hook if the charges prove true.
"He was presented with an option to do it legally," Corbett, then the state's attorney general, said in December 2009.
Source: York Daily Record, Dec. 16, 2009
Stetler is chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee between 2002 to 2006.
Stephen Stetler serves in state House of Representatives. He represents the 95th legislative district. Source: York Sunday News, July 23, 2006
In 1989, Stephen Stetler resigned from the state job. His cousin, David Stetler, was looking to buy the Dodge dealership that their grandfather had started in 1914, and he needed another investor. Though he remains a part owner, Steve Stetler never did end up making business a full-time job. Two weeks later, state Rep. Mike Bortner, a friend of Stetler’s, announced that he would run for state Senate. And Stetler decided that he would run for Bortner’s House seat. He won the primary, then the general election, and then occupied that seat for nearly 16 years. Source: York Sunday News, July 23, 2006
In 1977, Stetler secured a job with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. There, he worked his way up from an entry-level administration job to deputy secretary for taxation. He also earned a business degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Source: York Sunday News, July 23, 2006
Stephen Stetler is born on this date. He later said he grew up in a house where politics were always held in high importance. His father, Nevin, was a prominent York lawyer who was closely involved with local humanitarian organizations the York Benevolent Association and the Hahn Home for elderly women. Steve Stetler would later become involved with those organizations himself. Nevin Stetler was also involved with some local political campaigns. “We watched the news at night, then we sat and talked,” Stetler said. Source: York Sunday News, July 23, 2006