Birthday: November 21, 1939
Died At Age: 47
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Robert Budd Dwyer
Born in: Saint Charles, Missouri
Famous as: Political Leader
Spouse/Ex-: Joanne Dwyer (m. 1963 – his death. 1987)
father: Robert Malcolm Dwyer
mother: Alice Mary Budd Dwyer
children: Dyan Dwyer, Robert Dwyer
Died on: January 22, 1987
place of death: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
U.S. State: Missouri
Cause of Death: Suicide
education: Allegheny College
R. Budd Dwyer was a politician from Pennsylvania who committed suicide during a press conference on January 22, 1987. He was the 30th State Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in which position he served for six years. It was discovered in the early 1980s that Pennsylvania state employees had overpaid federal taxes due to errors in state withholding. California-based firm Computer Technology Associates (CTA) had won the multimillion-dollar contract to determine the compensation that the state owed to each employee. In 1986, Dwyer was convicted for taking bribes from CTA to help it get the contract. His sentencing was scheduled the day after his tragic death, and despite his claim that he was being framed, prime witness William Trickett Smith maintained that Dwyer did actually take $300,000 from him. Smith was the attorney of John Torquato, Jr., the owner of CTA. Dwyer had previously served for 10 years as a Republican member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, representing the state's 50th district.
Childhood & Early Life
Robert Budd Dwyer was born on November 21, 1939 in Saint Charles, Missouri, to Robert Malcolm Dwyer and Alice Mary Budd Dwyer. He attended Townville High School, and following his graduation, he pursued a course in economy at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania.
He, however, soon shifted to Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania to study education and political science, where he was also a member of the Beta Chi chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity. After completing his graduation in 1961, he began teaching social studies and coaching football at Cambridge Springs High School.
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R. Budd Dwyer, a Republican member, began his political career in 1964 when he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the 6th district. His work was appreciated by the local people, and he was reelected two more times - in 1966 and 1968.
In 1970, just before the end of his tenure as a State Representative, he ran for a seat in the Pennsylvania State Senate from the 50th district and won. He resigned from his position in the State House, and in January 1971, he was sworn in as a Senator, in which position he was reelected in 1974 and 1978.
He decided to run for a state office in 1980, and won the office of Pennsylvania Treasurer, replacing Robert E. Casey. In 1984, Dwyer was reelected as the State Treasurer, but later events lead to a tragic end to his tenure.
It was discovered in the early 1980s that Pennsylvania state employees had overpaid federal taxes due to errors in state withholding. California-based firm Computer Technology Associates (CTA) won a multimillion-dollar contract to evaluate the refunds that the state of Pennsylvania owed to its employees. Shortly after that, Governor Dick Thornburgh received an anonymous memo, detailing the alleged bribery that was exchanged during the bidding process.
During the investigation, it was revealed that Dwyer had received a $300,000 pay-off for awarding the contract to CTA, a fact that was later corroborated by four independent and impartial witnesses. While Dwyer refused to plead guilty, on December 18, 1986, he was convicted on 11 counts of conspiracy, perjury, mail fraud and interstate transportation in aid of racketeering.
On January 22, 1987, the day before his sentencing, R. Budd Dwyer organized a press conference, in which he claimed innocence, and blamed the Governor, the prosecutor and some FBI personnel for “ruining his life”. Once he finished his rant, he took out a .357 Magnum revolver from a manila envelope and urged people to leave "if this will affect you". Some people tried to seize the gun, but within a moment, he committed suicide by firing one shot into his mouth.
Following Dwyer’s death, the United States Department of Justice reviewed his allegations and cleared everyone who he had blamed for framing him. The FBI, following a separate investigation, stated that Dwyer’s allegations lacked "in substance and specificity". Decades later, in 2010, his prosecutor James J. West affirmed his guilt, and prosecution's primary witness William Trickett Smith repeated his prior claim that Dwyer had accepted his bribe.
Family & Personal Life
R. Budd Dwyer married Joanne M. Grappy in 1963, and they had two children together - daughter Dyan and son Robert. His wife later died of breast cancer on July 12, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona.
The Dwyer family faced a financial crisis while he was defending himself in court. If Dwyer had been sentenced, his widow would not have received the state-provided pension benefits. Many people, including his family and friends, believe that Dwyer decided to end his life in office to allow Joanne collect full survivor benefits which, at over $1.28 million, was the largest amount paid by the state system up until that point.
Apart from several dramatic reenactments, the footage of R. Budd Dwyer's suicide has been used in several films, while its audio samples were used in Marilyn Manson's debut single 'Get Your Gunn'. The song 'Hey Man Nice Shot' by the band Filter is also based on Dwyer's suicide.
In 2010, director James Dirschberger made the documentary 'Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer', which looked into the scandal that eventually took the State Treasurer’s life.