Former state Rep. Steve Stetler denied allowing his legislative staff members to illegally do political campaign work during their work hours.
Stetler took the witness stand in his own defense Thursday morning, the fourth day of his trial in Dauphin County Court.
He's accused of misusing public funds and state employees for legislative campaigns.
Trial is scheduled to resume Monday morning, a court official said.
Stetler spent nearly four hours on the stand, answering questions posed by defense attorney Joshua Lock and by senior deputy attorney general Michael Sprow.
He denied a number of allegations made Wednesday by witness John Paul Jones, one of Stetler's former legislative aides, who told jurors Stetler knew Jones was doing political work on state time.
"To be candid, I didn't recognize a lot of what he was saying when he (testified)," Stetler said.
Stetler -- who in 2002 became policy chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and, a short time later, operations chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee -- denied knowing about a meeting during which it was decided Jones and other legislative employees would be moved to the campaign committee, but remain on caucus payroll.
The campaign committee is a privately funded organization, and while legislative staffers are allowed to volunteer there or on political campaigns in their free time, it is illegal for them to do so during work hours.
Jones told jurors there was no way Stetler could have been unaware that Jones was spending much of his work time volunteering on campaigns around the state.
Didn't notice: But Stetler said he never noticed Jones' absence, and that discipline would likely have been forthcoming had Stetler known what was going on.
He also said that although he spoke regularly with Dan Wiedemer, executive director of the campaign committee, Wiedemer never mentioned to him that Jones was working out of the campaign office.
Jones also testified it was Stetler who sent him to York to help with then-Mayor John Brenner's re-election bid.
But Stetler said that never happened.
"Was I worried about John Brenner winning the election in the fall? No," he said.
Stetler choked up and began to cry when addressing Jones' allegation that another legislative aide in Stetler's office was complicit in knowing that Jones was using comp time he didn't legitimately accrue.
Stetler defended that aide, Rosemary Green, saying it was incomprehensible to him that Jones would make such an accusation.
Policy 'clear': Stetler said his policies on comp time and political volunteer work were clear: comp time must be properly accrued, and political work must be done on a staffer's own personal time.
He said he wasn't aware of a bonus system that rewarded legislative staffers who volunteered in political races, something which Jones and other trial witnesses confirmed existed.
Stetler also denied knowing that in 2006, Jones received a bonus of about $12,500 for his political "volunteer" work -- despite the fact that Jones told jurors he and Stetler spoke about it.
Stetler told jurors he was aware caucus staffers were conducting opposition research for political campaigns, but believed those staffers were doing so while on personal leave, whether that be comp time or vacation or personal days.
'Good team': Stetler confirmed that as operations chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee -- where all those opposition research reports ended up -- he was part of the decision-making process on whether to hire private firms to conduct that research, instead of using volunteer staffers.
"But we had a really good team of people (who) volunteered to do opposition research," and who knew how to do it and what rules to abide by, he testified.
Also, Stetler told jurors, the campaign committee could not afford to retain a private research firm.
York mayoral race: On cross-examination, Stetler denied telling Brenner he would send Jones down to York to help with Brenner's campaign.
Prosecutor Sprow pointed out that "witness after witness after witness" testified Stetler participated the ongoing culture of political campaign work being done on work time. Did all those witnesses, Sprow asked, get it wrong?
"I would agree with that, yeah," Stetler replied.
Former staffers: Four of Stetler's former staffers also testified Thursday for the defense.
All of them said Stetler made it extremely clear to them over the years that any political volunteering they wanted to do was fine, but it had to be done out of the office and on their own time.
"There was no campaign activity at all in the (York) district office," former Stetler chief of staff Becky Buckingham testified.
A former Stetler researcher and analyst, Christopher King, testified he volunteered on several campaigns statewide, but always on his own time.
King said in 2006, he received a $5,000 bonus, but at the time had no idea it was given to him because of his campaign work.
"I actually wrote a check to the Pennsylvania State Treasury" giving back the money, King testified.
The background: Stetler represented York City and its surrounding area from 1991 to 2006 before stepping down to head the Pennsylvania Economy League.
He was appointed to head the state Department of Revenue in November 2008 but resigned from that post in December 2009, just hours before criminal charges against him were announced as part of the state's Bonusgate investigation.
A total of 25 people with ties to the state House Democratic and Republican caucuses were arrested during the Bonusgate investigation, now in its sixth year, according to The Associated Press.
Twelve Democrats and nine Republicans were convicted or have pleaded guilty as a result of the probe. Two defendants (both Democrats) were acquitted, and charges against a Republican defendant were dropped.
-- Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at 505-5429.