Rep. Bill DeWeese - who along with John Perzel was the biggest fish netted in the "Bonusgate" probe - says had Attorney General Corbett have pursued civil, rather than criminal, charges in the case it would have lessened the life-altering blows felt by defendants and witnesses.

Speaking on WGAL-TV's Pennsylvania Newsmakers, which aired today, DeWeese said he did not know what was going through Corbett's "thought process" when he pursued criminal charges against former lawmakers and their staffs.

DeWeese, who despite the indictment in the political corruption probe just won a tough Democratic primary in his Greene County district, told host G. Terry Madonna that civil proceedings could have reduced the heartache for not just the 25 charged, but also many others who were granted immunity.

"He has a wide berth of prosecutorial discretions that allowed maximum flexibility," said DeWeese. "A lot of lives have been altered."

DeWeese told host G. Terry Madonna that in a civil suit those convicted could have paid back bonuses - received for campaign work done on government time - with interest. (DeWeese failed to mention, however, the untold numbers of hours public employees spent campaigning on the taxpayer dime.)

DeWeese, who was the House Minority leader when the illegal activities allegedly occurred, also contends he, and his aide Sharon Rodavich, should not have been charged.

"I think the Attorney General made a mistake charging Sharon Rodavich and myself," said DeWeese. "It was way off the bullseye."

Rodavich is accused of running DeWeese's political operation from his district office.

Of  his decision to run for an 18th term in the state House, DeWeese said he felt like he'd taken a punch from the world's best known heavyweight fighter when he was indicted in December, but took a month to consider his future.

"I felt like Muhammad Ali had knocked me on the canvas," said DeWeese, adding he decided to run at the urging of friends and constituents.

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