On Wednesday, Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced criminal charges against eight men in what she is calling a turnpike 'Pay to Play' scheme.
For one of the accused an amazing fall from power continues, Bob Mellow was the Democratic Leader of the Senate from 1994 through 2010, last year he plead guilty to charges including filing a false tax return. Now, he is the lead defendant accused of misdirection, misuse and theft of millions of dollars of public money.
Kane says the eight face a range of charges. "They are charged with a variety of offenses including conspiracy, criminal bribery, bid rigging, theft, conflict of interest and corruption."
In addition to 70-year-old former Senator Mellow, who is now in prison, five former Turnpike Commission officials and employees and two businessmen who had multi-million dollar contracts with the state have been charged. Former turnpike CEO Joseph Brimmeier talked to CBS21 News, back in 2006, about about deficit in state transportation funding. All the while, allegedly he was lining his own pockets.
According to the Attorney General he was part of the problem. "The former state officials charged wheeled extraordinary power, which they wrongfully used for self enrichment for their own political purposes rather than for the good of the commonwealth and for the citizens. 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 demonstrates that the turnpike operates under a pay to play system that is illegal and corrupt."
"The reason that they made these contributions and provided these gifts, cause they knew that was the way they would get the contract." Said State Police Commissioner, Frank Noonan.
Kane says the investigation into corruption continues. "We will continue to prosecute, where the charges are warranted based upon the facts, then they will be less likely to take these gifts and travel and do business as usual."