Former Pa Turnpike head Joe Brimmeier -- the man county exec Rich Fitzgerald appointed to the Port Authority board, and wanted to take over the agency -- was charged with corruption today by Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Said Fitzgerald's in a statement:
"Joe Brimmeier called me last night to notify me that he was submitting his resignation from the Board of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, effective immediately, in light of the charges announced this morning.
He indicated to me that he is innocent of these charges, but would be focusing his time and attention on proving that. Our justice system is set up on the premise that all men are innocent until proven guilty. I believe that and wish Joe the best in facing this challenge."
He was one of eight former/current turnpike officials charged by a grand jury.
HARRISBURG -- Attorney General Kathleen Kane today announced criminal charges against eight men, including a former state senator already convicted of corruption, in an alleged "pay to play" scheme involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Ms. Kane said in a news conference that a statewide investigating grand jury had found evidence of secret gifts of cash, travel and entertainment, as well as political contributions to public officials and political organizations, by private Turnpike vendors and their consultants.
She announced charges against former state Sen. Bob Mellow, former Turnpike Commissioner Mitchell Rubin, former Turnpike Chief Executive Officer Joseph Brimmeier, former Turnpike Chief Operating Officer George Hatalowich and former Turnpike employees Melvin Shelton and Raymond Zajicek. The attorney general also announced charges against Turnpike vendors Dennis Miller and Jeffrey Suzenski.
The men were charged with offenses including conspiracy, commercial bribery, bid-rigging, theft, conflict of interest and corrupt organization violations.
The grand jury found substantial evidence that Mellow, during his time as Democratic leader, directed his chief of staff to secure Turnpike contracts for key contributors and supporters, according to the attorney general.
And from the AP's Mark Scolforo and Marc Levy:
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former state Senate leader and seven others have been charged in a "pay to play" case involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike, state prosecutors said Wednesday.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane said the eight are accused of criminal activity for their financial and political advantage. A grand jury heard evidence that cash, travel, entertainment and political contributions were secretly provided to public officials and political groups by turnpike vendors and their consultants, Kane's office said in a news release.
The defendants include former state Senate Democratic Leader Bob Mellow, former turnpike chairman Mitchell Rubin and former turnpike chief executive Joe Brimmeier. Three former turnpike officials were also charged: George Hatalowich, 47, of Harrisburg, the former chief operating officer; Melvin Shelton, of Philadelphia; and Raymond Zajicek, of Tarpon Springs, Fla.
The other defendants are two turnpike vendors: Dennis Miller, of Harrisburg, and consultant Jeffrey Suzenski, of Pottstown.
The allegations include conspiracy, commercial bribery, bid rigging, theft and conflict of interest.
Kane said the grand jury found "substantial evidence" that Mellow directed an aide to help key contributors and supporters obtain turnpike contracts.
"The public has lost untold millions of dollars," Kane said. "The greatest improper influence was exerted over the turnpike's procurement process."
The investigation began several years ago and has been conducted largely in secret.