Six to stand trial in Pennsylvania Turnpike 'pay to play' case

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A district court judge says prosecutors have enough evidence to take an alleged “pay to play” case to trial against a former state senator, a former Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO, former commissioner and three other former turnpike employees.

District Court Judge William Wenner ruled Tuesday, July 16, that the case will proceed against former state Sen. Robert Mellow; former turnpike Commissioner Mitchell Rubin; former turnpike Chief Executive Officer Joseph Brimmeier; former turnpike Chief Operating Officer George Hatalowich; and former turnpike employees Melvin Shelton and Raymond Zajicek.

The arraignment will likely happen in September, according to reports.

A grand jury alleged in March that the accused rigged turnpike work contracts in exchange for personal gain and contributions to political campaigns. The office of Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced the charges March 13.

According to the grand jury document, Mellow used his tenure as Democratic floor speaker to solicit contributions in exchange for securing turnpike work contracts. The grand jury also said Mellow directed turnpike staff to solicit contributions on his behalf.

Rubin, elected chairman of the turnpike in 2003, faces three counts of bid-rigging and six other counts including commercial bribery. Rubin once worked for former state Sen. Vincent Fumo, who was charged with corruption and sentenced to 55 months in prison in 2009. Rubin and his wife, Ruth Arnao, faced separate charges connected to the Fumo trial for “no work” contracts. Rubin took leave in 2006 and was later let go by then-Gov. Ed Rendell.

Brimmeier, who was CEO of the turnpike from 2003 through 2010, was charged with a total of nine counts, including bid-rigging and restricted activities.

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