Attorney General Kathleen Kane today announced criminal charges against eight men — including former state Sen. Robert Mellow and former Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Joseph Brimmeier — for their involvement in what is being called a “pay-to-play” scheme over Turnpike contracts.
The list also includes former Turnpike Commissioner Mitchell Rubin, former COO George Hatalowich and former employees Melvin Shelton and Raymond Zajicek, as well as vendors Dennis Miller and Jeffrey Suzenski.
Kane's office said in a news release that their criminal acts resulted in the misdirection, misuse and theft of millions of dollars of public money.
The men are charged with a variety of offenses, including conspiracy, commercial bribery, bid-rigging, theft, conflict of interest and corrupt organization violations.
"The grand jury found that these men were using the Turnpike to line their pockets and to influence elections," Kane said in a statement. "That is stealing from the public, pure and simple."
The 33rd Statewide Investigating Grand Jury heard evidence of secret gifts of cash, travel and entertainment and the payment of substantial political contributions to public officials and political organizations by private turnpike vendors and their consultants.
In particular, the grand jury found substantial evidence that Mellow, during his tenure as Democratic floor leader, directed that his chief of staff secure turnpike contracts for key contributors and supporters, the AG's office said. Mellow also told his chief of staff to order individuals at the Turnpike to provide political support and raise campaign funds on his behalf, according to the grand jury.