A former Pennsylvania Department of Transportation official has pleaded guilty to conflict of interest for soliciting and accepting bribes from at least one contractor.
Nicholas Martino, 53, was sentenced up to 23 months of home incarceration, a $10,000 fine and 50 hours of community service.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the guilty plea on Tuesday, Jan. 22, in a news release.
“This state employee played with taxpayer money in order to get a payout for himself,” Shapiro said in the news release. “He accepted bribes and knowingly allowed a contractor to not perform their work under their contract with state government. No one is above the law, and my office will continue prosecuting corruption and holding public officials accountable.”
Charged in June 2018, Martino was accused of accepting payments from an unidentified PennDOT contractor. According to the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, Martino continued the contractor’s existing contracts with PennDOT in exchange for payments over an eight-year period. He was accused of keeping the contracts even when the contractor didn’t perform the work they were obligated to do.
Martino was employed by PennDOT as assistant district executive from 2006 until 2014.
The investigation began in 2013 after the attorney general’s office received a tip about possible corruption in the Southeast Pennsylvania office of PennDOT. The investigation revealed that Martino fired a Bucks County inspector for refusing to approve the work the contractor had not performed.
After the investigation was completed, 10 PennDOT managers and employees were charged with overbilling the state transportation agency by millions over a three-year period in exchange for kickbacks from contractors.
The investigation also resulted in guilty pleas from owners of two firms that have been doing business with PennDOT. Chris Czop, president of CZOP, pleaded guilty to one felony count of bid rigging. Thanh Nguyen, owner of V-Tech Services and Utility Line Clearance, pleaded guilty to counts of corrupt organizations and theft by deception.
“PennDOT employees from top to bottom work very hard each day to earn the trust of the people of Pennsylvania,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We do not tolerate any activity that undermines that trust and, as in this case, when we learn of illegal activity within our ranks, we work immediately to root it out.”
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