HARRISBURG - The seven men and five women who decided the fate of former State Rep. Mike Veon and three of his aides weren't out to cleanse the Capitol of corruption or send a signal to officeholders everywhere to walk the straight and narrow.
They had too much work to do.
Their job, as jury foreman Gene Shutt said yesterday, was to sort through six weeks' testimony, mine the mountain of 1,600 exhibits, decipher their own scribbled notes in a legion of legal pads - and get along for one more week.
"It wasn't our responsibility to send a message," said Shutt, 47, who is a supervisor in Wiconisco Township (population 1,168). "Our responsibility was to sort through the evidence and make a decision on the evidence.
"And let me tell you," Shutt added, it was a daunting task."
In the end, the jurors convicted Veon on 14 counts of theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy. They acquitted him of 45 related counts.
Two of Veon's former top aides - Brett Cott, 37, and Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, 47 - were also convicted. Cott was found guilty of three of 42 counts against him; Perretta-Rosepink was convicted of five of 22 counts she faced.
A third former Veon aide, Steve Keefer, 39, was acquitted on all 16 charges against him.
It took the jurors 58 hours of deliberations over seven days to decide on all the charges.
During that time, Shutt and the 11 other jurors huddled around a conference table on the fourth floor of the Dauphin County courthouse. Early on, they asked for a larger room - to accommodate the stacks of evidence and legal pads.
The panel was moved to a lawyer's conference room. They went to work, spreading papers and notes all along the tops of the cabinets that lined the room.
Someone spied blackboards on wheels in the hallway. The jurors had them hauled in. That way, Shutt said, they could write down names of witnesses and key testimony as they deliberated.
There was so much paperwork in the room that at the end of each day, Shutt said, sheriff's officers would lock and chain the doors to make certain no one entered.
And when the jury was in the room, Shutt said, all they did, day after day, was "deliberate and debate." Cell phones weren't allowed in. Small talk stayed at a minimum.
"It was mentally fatiguing," said another juror, Barbara Dupler. "We basically gave up our lives to be on that jury for that length of time."
Soon after the verdicts, prosecutors were hailing the outcome as a blow against misbehavior in office. In a briefing with reporters yesterday, Attorney General Tom Corbett picked up this theme.
"Hopefully the people of Pennsylvania can have a little bit more faith in their state government today now that these defendants have been convicted," he said.
Corbett said he expected Veon, Cott and Perretta-Rosepink to be sentenced to jail time on May 21. Veon faces a maximum term of 73 years, Perretta-Rosepink, 25 years, and Cott, 17 years.
Defense lawyers pointed out that prosecutors secured convictions on only 22 of the 139 charges brought against the four defendants, or 16 percent. Corbett, who is running for governor, preferred a different set of figures: of 12 people named in the initial round of charges, 10 have now been convicted or pleaded guilty in Bonusgate, a scandal nicknamed for what prosecutors say was a multiyear scheme to reward legislative staffers with state bonuses for doing campaign work.
"I like that percentage number," Corbett said.
Shutt said yesterday that as far as jurors were concerned, "There was no smoking gun."
"It was like a jigsaw puzzle," he said. "We had pieces of evidence here and pieces there, and we had to connect them together to form a final picture."
He said the jury took each individual charge and painstakingly kicked it around. "We all had a say. There wasn't one person in that room that didn't have the floor."
There were tense moments. One juror last week tearfully told the Dauphin County Judge Richard A. Lewis that people were turning on each other.
On Friday, that juror was excused for illness and replaced with an alternate, leading Lewis to instruct the jury to begin deliberations from scratch.
"It was very hard on some of the jurors," juror Deborah Rupert said of the hours behind closed doors. "I know it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done."
Rupert would not discuss the excused juror. Neither would Shutt.
"At points, it did get heated," he said, "but we policed ourselves. Some people had strong feelings, but we were all civil. Over six weeks, you get to know people. And that really helped."
But he couldn't stop thinking about the issues, even when he went home at night. "During the trial," Shutt said, "I didn't have the ability to turn it off at the end of the day."
Now that the long trial is over, Shutt believes the jury got it right. "The last question we asked ourselves before we announced the verdict was: 'Are we comfortable?' And we all said 'yes,' " he said. "We know we did the job we were asked to do."
Shutt said the first thing he did when he came home late Monday night was hug his wife.
And then he did something he hadn't done since the start of the trial. He slept through the night.