HARRISBURG — Former longtime House Democratic leader Bill DeWeese on Monday began serving a 2½- to five-year prison term for corruption.

DeWeese, 62, reported to Dauphin County Prison about 1 p.m., a half-hour ahead of the court-ordered deadline, officials said.

"I just want to say three things. One, I'm going to behave myself and obviously conform to the protocols of the institution; two, I'm going to stay in tip-top physical condition; and third and finally, I'm going to make some new friends," DeWeese told WHTM-TV.

His next stop is expected to be Camp Hill state prison, where he is to undergo several weeks of testing and assessment before being assigned to a "home institution" within the prison system.

The former Greene County lawmaker served in the House for 35 years, including two years as speaker.

In February, a jury convicted DeWeese of conspiracy, conflict of interest, and three counts of theft for using public resources for political purposes. He kept his House seat for more than two months because the constitutional ban on felons serving as legislators is not triggered until they are sentenced.

He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in his Southwestern Pennsylvania district and remains on the Nov. 6 general-election ballot.

If he were to win a new term in November, an appellate court would have to overturn his conviction in order for him to return to the House.