Governor fires Pennsylvania Turnpike commissioner

| 3/23/2009

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell removed Mitchell Rubin from the state Turnpike Commission for alleged financial misdealings connected to convicted former state Sen. Vincent Fumo.

A jury in a federal case found Fumo guilty this past week on all 137 counts of corruption and the misuse of $3.5 million in public funds.

Rubin, appointed to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in 1998 by former Gov. Tom Ridge based on a recommendation from Fumo, became the target of an FBI probe himself during the Fumo investigations.

According to the jury in the Fumo case, Rubin’s company, BNR Preferred Revenues, was paid $150,000 for a five-year contract from 1999 through 2004 without proof that any work was carried out.

With Fumo’s conviction and the FBI probe continuing, Rubin wrote to Gov. Rendell on Saturday, March 21, to say he was taking leave from the turnpike office.

Rendell responded Monday with a letter notifying Rubin of his termination.

In the letter, Rendell stated in part:

“Counts four and five of the indictment in U.S. v. Fumo alleged that you and your company, BNR Preferred Revenues, received $150,000 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for which no work was ever done;

“At trial in U.S. v. Fumo no evidence was produced to demonstrate any work done by BNR in return for that compensation; and,

“The jury returned a guilty verdict against Senator Fumo on counts four and five. Said verdict required that the jury found no evidence of work being done by BNR in return for said compensation as a predicator for mail fraud.”

Mitchell Rubin has not been charged with any wrongdoing. His name and photo have been removed from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Web site.

Lawmakers and taxpayers continue to wonder what other effects the Fumo conviction will have.

The same jury that convicted Fumo has also convicted Rubin’s wife, Ruth Arnao, of 45 counts of corruption and fraud. Arnao was a longtime aide to Fumo.

Fumo’s sentencing is scheduled for July 13. He is currently out on $2 million bail.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-PA, said Fumo’s conviction and the Rubin allegations should serve as a reminder that no one is above the law.

“As a Pennsylvania resident, to know that my tax dollars were used to support a lifestyle of greed, deception, and corruption by one of the most powerful members of the Harrisburg elite is troublesome – especially in this time of economic hardship and budget shortfalls,” Thompson said in a statement issued to Land Line Magazine.

“I trust that both the U.S. Justice Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney General will continue to root out this type of mistrust within our government.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer