Former Maine Turnpike chief could do jail time

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 1/25/2012

The former chief of the Maine Turnpike Authority faces the likelihood of at least some jail time as part of a plea agreement in a felony theft case against him. Paul Violette was executive director of the Turnpike Authority for 23 years until an investigation last March revealed lavish and unauthorized spending.

According to the Office of the Maine Attorney General, Violette is expected to enter a plea agreement on charges that carry a maximum of 10 years.

Last year, the Maine Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability conducted a review that found more than $450,000 in sponsorships and donations that used turnpike funds. Unauthorized spending included $157,000 in gift cards that had no paper trail on who received them.

Violette resigned in March 2011, and in July the Maine Turnpike Authority filed a civil complaint against him. Violette settled the civil suit, agreeing to pay back $155,000 in restitution. Two bonding firms are on the hook to pay back another $275,000 to the agency.

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