HARRISBURG - Former state Rep. Sean Ramaley was cleared of all charges yesterday in the first trial spawned by Pennsylvania's government-corruption investigation.
The former two-term Democrat from Beaver County was accused of using a state job to run his first campaign out of a western Pennsylvania legislative office in 2004.
A jury found Ramaley, 34, not guilty of four counts of theft and one count each of conspiracy and conflict of interest. Ramaley nodded his head slightly as the verdicts were being read, and then hugged his lawyers and his wife as the jury filed out.
He told reporters that he felt vindicated by the jury's verdict, which came after less than three hours of deliberation.
Ramaley was the first defendant put on trial in an ongoing state investigation that has resulted in criminal charges against 22 people connected to the state House of Representatives.
Prosecutors say the defendants used taxpayers' money, state workers and other public resources to try to win elections, among other illegal purposes.
In closing arguments yesterday morning, defense attorney Philip Ignelzi told the jury of six men and six women that Ramaley's job working in the Beaver Falls district office of then-Democratic Whip Mike Veon involved legitimate legislative work.
Prosecutor Anthony Krastek played down the importance of defense witnesses who testified that Ramaley had offered some legal advice regarding constituent problems at least a few times.
He said any legislative work Ramaley may have performed at the Beaver Falls office was "work by accident."
Ignelzi contended that prosecutors did not prove their case. He said some witnesses were not believable, either because they had lied in the past, they had immunity deals or time had frayed their memories.
Ignelzi asked jurors if they would be able to say in any detail what they did on a specific date five years ago, much less what a co-worker did.