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AG charges 8 in Pa. Turnpike corruption probe - abc27 WHTM

AG charges 8 in Pa. Turnpike corruption probe

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Left to right, first row: Robert Mellow, Mitchell Rubin, Joseph Brimmeier and George Hatalowich. Second row: Melvin Shelton, Raymond Zajicek, Dennis Miller and Jeffrey Suzenski. Left to right, first row: Robert Mellow, Mitchell Rubin, Joseph Brimmeier and George Hatalowich. Second row: Melvin Shelton, Raymond Zajicek, Dennis Miller and Jeffrey Suzenski.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Pennsylvania prosecutors have announced criminal charges against a former Senate leader and three former state officials in a "pay to play" case involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Former state Senator Robert Mellow, former Turnpike Commissioner Mitchell Rubin, former Turnpike CEO Joseph Brimmeier, and former Turnpike COO George Hatalowich used the toll highway system to line their own pockets, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Wednesday.

Charges were also filed against former Turnpike employees Melvin Shelton and Raymond Zajicek, and Turnpike vendors Dennis Miller and Jeffrey Suzenski.

The allegations include bribery, bid-rigging, theft and conflict of interest.

Kane said a grand jury found that private Turnpike vendors and consultants who made substantial contributions to public officials and political organizations were rewarded with multi-million dollar Turnpike contracts.

The grand jury also found substantial evidence that Mellow, while serving as Democratic floor leader, directed his chief of staff to secure Turnpike contracts for key contributors and supporters, Kane said.

Mellow pleaded guilty last year to charges he illegally used his Senate staff for campaign work. He began serving his 16-month federal prison sentence in November.

Kane said the men were using the Turnpike for their own political and financial gain and as a result, millions in public money was misdirected and misused.

"These were blatant actions," Kane said. "It was almost as though they had no fear of being caught."

Mellow, 70, was charged with two counts corrupt organizations, two counts of restricted activities, one count of commercial bribery, one count of unlawful bid-rigging, one count of restricted activities, one count of criminal conspiracy, and one count of failure to file expense account.

Rubin, 61, of Philadelphia, was charged with three counts of unlawful bid rigging, two counts corrupt organizations, two counts of restricted activities, one count commercial bribery, and one count of criminal conspiracy.

Brimmeier, 64, of Pittsburgh, was charged with two counts corrupt organizations, two counts of unlawful bid-rigging, two counts of restricted activities, one count of commercial bribery, one count of criminal attempt, and one count of criminal conspiracy.

Hatalowich, 47, of Harrisburg, was charged with seven counts of restricted activities, three counts of unlawful bid-rigging, two counts of corrupt organizations, one count of commercial bribery, one count of criminal attempt, and one count of criminal conspiracy.

Miller, 51, of Harrisburg, was charged with one count of unlawful bid-rigging, one count of theft by unlawful taking, one count of theft by deception, one count of restricted activities, and one count of criminal conspiracy.

Suzenski, 63, of Pottstown, was charged with one count of restricted activities.

Shelton, 81, of Philadelphia, was charged with two counts of theft by unlawful taking, two counts of theft by deception, two counts of misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institutions, one count of unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles, one count of perjury, one count of false swearing.

Zajicek, 67, of Tarpon Springs, Fla., was charged with two counts theft by unlawful taking, two counts theft by deception, two counts of misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institutions, one count of unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles, and one count of simple assault.

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