Top former officials of the Pa. Turnpike and a prominent ex-legislator were among 8 people indicted Wensday. Joseph Brimeier, retired 2011 as Chief Executive of the Turnpike Commission and former state minority leader Robert J. Mellow (D-Lackawana) are accused of illegally soliciting political contributions and misusing Turnpike funds. Others indicted were Mitch Rubin former turnpike chairman, George Hatalowich former COO, employees Raymond Zajicek and Melvin Sheldon and vendor employees Dennis Miller and Jeffrey Suzeski.
A pay to play culture permeated the turnpike, according to Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane. Companies seeking work with the turnpike lavished officials with entertainment, dinners, trips and sporting events. Political contributors were rewarded with contracts and politicians were rewarded with gifts and perks, according to the grand jury. The jurors 85 page presentment told of a 60/40 rule, the majority in power got 60% of contracts and jobs, the minority the other 40%. The Pittsburgh grand jury deliberated for 44 months and interviewed hundreds of witnesses. Investigating is continuing but is restricted under an 8 year statute of limitations.
Mellow who is currently in a federal prison in South Carolina on unrelated corruption charges. He was charged with corrupt organizations, bribery, bid rigging, conspiracy and other offenses. Brimeier is facing similar charges. Miller, Rubin, Hatalowich and Suzenski were arraigned on Wensday and released on $100,000 unsecured bail. Shelton and Brimeier are expected in court today.
In March 2009, then Governor Ed Rendell fired Rubin as commissioner chairman when he found out Rubin was a targetn a corruption probe of Vincent J. Fumo. The turnpike figured tangetially in the federal case against Fumo. Fumo was convicted of fraud and other charges in 2009.
Well this shows that corruption is not just a one party item. Democrats are guilty as well. Pennsylvania needs to get a lid on things because corruption is tearing through our state. We have good reason not to trust our state government. This is an abuse of power and all involved should be punished to the full extent of the law.
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