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Top Veon aide going to prison in Bonusgate

Jeff Foreman admitted using public money for campaigning, bonuses.

HARRISBURG - Jeff Foreman, the chief of staff for former State Rep. Mike Veon, was sentenced Friday to 111/2 to 23 months in prison after he admitted directing public resources to political campaigns.

Foreman was ordered to report to the Dauphin County Work Release Center, which allows inmates to leave daily to go to jobs. Foreman, 59, is unemployed but has been volunteering at an adult education center.

Foreman could have been sentenced to as much as seven years. Veon is serving six to 14 years.

During a sentencing hearing Friday, Foreman said he was ashamed of his actions.

"Being involved in public policy and civic activities meant the world to me and I wanted to make a positive contribution," he said. "I am remorseful that while I had the opportunity to contribute in a significant way I became involved in activities I should not have."

Dauphin County Court Judge Richard A. Lewis said that Foreman's contrition appeared sincere, but that his crimes were serious enough to warrant incarceration.

During the trial, Foreman admitted campaigning on state time and forcefully ordering others to do the same. He also testified that he reviewed lists of proposed taxpayer-funded bonuses to be given to state workers as rewards for political work.

"You were not merely a foot soldier," but a close adviser who was "in the best position, as friend and counsel to Veon, to advise him against the scheme to award taxpayer dollars to individuals for campaign work," Lewis said.

Defense attorney Royce Morris argued that Foreman was the victim of a Capitol culture where lines between political and legislative work often blurred. Lewis, though, said Foreman helped create that culture.

He said Foreman's political directives were "systematically repeated over a three-year period to such an extent that those actions became part of the landscape."

Three defendants, all associated with the House Democratic caucus, were found guilty in the "Bonusgate" corruption scheme while seven others, including Foreman, pleaded guilty and cooperated in the investigation.

Foreman originally had been charged with 24 crimes but as part of a cooperation agreement, pleaded guilty to four, all third-degree felonies.

During the investigation, Foreman provided detailed information that allowed prosecutors to be "intimately versed in exactly what happened within Veon's Capitol staff," Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina told Lewis. "He never sought to diminish his responsibility or in any way to mask or hide his own acts."

Foreman is cooperating in other investigations as well and is expected to testify in February in another case involving his former boss. Veon and the former manager of his Beaver Falls district office, also convicted in the Bonusgate case, are accused of misusing state grants given to Beaver Initiative for Growth, a nonprofit they ran.

Veon represented Beaver County in the Legislature for 22 years.