The former executive director of a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit testified yesterday in the corruption trial of the organization's founder, ex-congressman Mike Veon.
The Tribune-Review reported today that John Gallo, who was executive director of the Beaver Initiative for Growth (BIG), testified that he knew there was trouble for the nonprofit when he discovered checks written in its account that had no connection to the organization. Gallo was the first witness in the case against Veon, who is accused, along with co-defendant Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, of theft-related offenses and conflict of interest. The two are also accused of funneling $10 million in state grants to BIG.
Before being ousted in 2006, Veon was a Democratic power broker from Beaver Falls, Pa. He is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence for previous corruption charges, and faces 19 felonies in the BIG case. Perretta-Rosepink faces six theft-related counts.
Gallo told the jury that he first found the suspect checks after returning from a month's leave. The checks were written by Perretta-Rosepink and included a $5,000 payment to the late Rep. Terry Van Horne, who had no association to BIG, and payments to a legislative office in Midland. Veon's lawyer, Joel Sansone, accused Gallo of stealing money from the organization, citing numerous expenses for flat amounts, such as $400 and $150. Gallo denied those claims, but acknowledged he could not remember all of the nonprofit's expenses.
Prosecutor Deputy Attorney General Laurel Brandstetter told the jury that Sansone's allegations were "baseless," and accused Veon of using BIG money not to bolster the local economy, but to pay his legislative chief of staff and his law firm for consulting services, among other things.
The trial will resume on Tuesday. You can read more about it in The Tribune-Review.