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Ex-Pennsylvania state senator pleads guilty to fraud, tax evasion

A familiar name to those who follow Pennsylvania state politics is facing possible prison time after pleading guilty to federal charges related to how he ran two of his political campaigns. Former State Senator Bob Mellow entered his guilty plea to charges of mail fraud and tax evasion in federal court on May 9, putting an end to a 40-year political career.

Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's office accused Mellow of using state employees to work on his campaign and those of other politicians in 2006 and 2010 and cover up the work on campaign paperwork. They said they had information from former senate staff members detailing the scheme, and said that Mellow may have cost taxpayers in Pennsylvania more than $100,000.

The U.S. Attorney's office charged Mellow in March. He and his attorneys worked out a plea agreement that will require Mellow to become a felon and could lead to a prison sentence. The felony status will prevent him from running for political office again under the law.

It is not clear what concessions prosecutors made in the plea bargain, if any. It may include a suggestion for the judge as far as sentencing, but ultimately that will be up to the judge. Mellow's attorneys said that they accepted the deal because their client is in poor health.

Mellow, a Democrat, served in the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1971 to 2010, representing the state's 22nd Senatorial District. He led the Democratic caucus in the senate for more than 20 years before retiring in 2010.

Source: WNEP-TV, "Mellow Enters Guilty Plea in Federal Court," Stacy Lange, May 9, 2012

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