HARRISBURG - In a surprise development in the corruption case known as Computergate, Brian Preski, onetime chief of staff to former state House Speaker John M. Perzel, interrupted his trial Wednesday morning to plead guilty to 10 counts.
Among the charges to which Preski entered pleas in Dauphin County Court were five counts of conspiracy. He was facing 54 counts at trial.
Preski's former boss, Perzel, once among the most powerful Republican officeholders in the state, has pleaded guilty in the case and was expected to testify against Preski and two other remaining defendants: former State Rep. Brett Feese of Lycoming County and his onetime aide, Jill Seaman.
Preski, 46, declined to answer reporters' questions as he left the courtroom with his lawyer. Prosecutors said his pleas did not require him to testify. In all, he entered pleas to five counts of conspiracy, three of conflict of interest, and two of theft.
The theft and conspiracy counts each carry a maximum prison sentence of seven years, and the maximum for each conflict-of-interest charge is five years. Both sides agreed that sentences for the conspiracy counts would be concurrent with those on the other charges, lawyers in the case said.
In Computergate, prosecutors allege that the House GOP caucus, then led by Perzel, used millions in state money to buy computer programs and equipment they used for campaigning.