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Pennsylvania lawmakers facing conspiracy, other charges

When people who hold positions of power are accused of criminal acts, the public often loses trust not only in the individuals themselves but also in the offices they occupy. This negative reaction often occurs as soon as charges are filed, which is often far in advance of the matter reaching a court of law. Such may be the case for several Pennsylvania lawmakers who are accused of conspiracy, conflict of interest and bribery.

The federal charges come on the heels of an influence-peddling investigation conducted by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office. Three individuals, two of whom are currently sitting in the General Assembly and one who is a former member, face charges of using their positions to encourage monetary contributions in exchange for promises of pushing certain pieces of legislation forward. Those payments were allegedly not reported as either gifts or campaign contributions.

The total amount of the payments received by the three individuals is estimated at $4,250. In one case, an informant is alleged to have taped conversations in which the accused lawmakers accepted the payments and made promises to support certain pieces of legislation. However, Attorney General Kathleen Kane has stated that the investigation seems to target black lawmakers and is basically "not prosecutable."

As the Pennsylvania case progresses, additional details will likely be made available to the public. As of the time of this report, it is unclear how the individuals will respond to the charges of conspiracy, bribery and conflict of interest. Each will likely work with his or her legal team to build a criminal defense strategy. That process involves a comprehensive review of all evidence held by the prosecution, as well as an evaluation of all possible outcomes.  

Source: triblive.com, "2 Pa. lawmakers, former House member arrested on corruption charges", Brad Bumsted, March 10, 2015

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