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First defendant in state corruption probe acquitted

Yesterday, a Dauphin County jury found former Rep. Sean Ramaley not guilty of six criminal charges stemming from Attorney General Tom Corbett's ongoing probe into state government corruption. Ramaley is the first defendant to face a jury in the investigation, which has ensnared powerful lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The Post-Gazette reports:

The verdict came after four days of testimony on prosecutors accusations that Mr. Ramaley's part-time state job was a "sham" to allow him to collect a paycheck while he ran for office in 2004.

The Dauphin County jury of six men and six women deliberated for less than three hours.

Mr. Ramaley's lip quivered as the verdict was read.

Ramely's defense included an effort to convince the jury he wasn't such a bad guy.

His defense team brought in a parade of character witnesses, including a priest and a police chief, and called former co-workers who testified that they trained Mr. Ramaley to use the office computer system and that they saw him help at least three constituents.

The acquittal is a setback for Corbett, who is also running for governor while overseeing the investigation. However, he'll have plenty of other opportunities to try for convictions. In addition to Ramaley, 21 people have been charged in "Bonusgate." Some of them might not go to trial, but much of the case will play out in courtrooms over the coming year.

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