Former Maine Turnpike director sentenced for theft

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 4/9/2012

The former executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority will spend the next three and-a-half years in prison, Maine Attorney General William Schneider announced on Friday, April 6. Paul Violette pleaded guilty in February on a theft charge that involved using gift cards purchased with turnpike funks for personal gain.

Violette’s sentence was actually seven years, but the judge suspended half the prison term while adding 1,500 hours of community service.

Violette, 56, served as executive director from 1987 until 2011, when the Maine Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability identified the purchase of more than $200,000 in gift cards during a period from 2004 to 2010.

According to the oversight agency, Violette used the gift cards to finance spa treatments, meals and hotel stays on personal trips.

“Further investigation determined that Violette had been using gift cards purchased with Turnpike Authority funds to finance trips to Italy, Canada, Spain, Puerto Rico and France, as well as stays in boutique hotels in the Berkshires, Vermont and Maine,” Schneider stated on the attorney general website.

In December 2011, Violette agreed to pay back $155,000 to the Turnpike Authority to settle a civil suit against him. According to Schneider’s office, the $155,000 was Violette’s net worth at the time of the civil settlement.

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