HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) â€” A veteran state senator accused of falsifying documents to conceal more than $330,000 in consulting payments from a private firm pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating tax laws.
Under a plea bargain, F. Joseph Loeper, the Senate majority leader, also agreed to resign from the Legislature before his sentencing hearing, set for Feb. 7.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, though a judge could impose only home confinement. Prosecutors made no sentencing recommendation, U.S. Attorney Michael R. Stiles said.
Loeper, a 22-year Senate veteran, has had a hand in most major legislation in Republican Gov. Tom Ridge's administration.
He declined to speak to reporters as he left the hearing but has said he will resign at the end of the year.
Prosecutors said Loeper tried to hide his business relationship with the Municipal Tax Bureau, a private Philadelphia company that collected taxes on behalf of governments for a percentage fee. The company paid Loeper more than $330,000 in consulting fees over four years, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said more than a third of the money was channeled through a private investigator over two years in an apparent attempt to keep the payments hidden.
While prosecutors said Loeper's business arrangement with MTB did not violate the law, he was charged with obstructing administration of U.S. tax laws for giving the investigator a backdated consulting agreement, time sheets and other documents apparently intended to conceal the arrangement.
The investigator, James Carpino, had been cooperating with federal investigators, said Michael Levy, assistant U.S. attorney. Carpino agreed to plead guilty to a single violation of filing a false tax return.
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