Decision Nears In Former Turnpike CEO Corruption Case
HARRISBURG (KDKA) — We should know by tomorrow who among the former leadership of the Turnpike Commission charged in this scandal will go to trial, and who, if any, will not.
Among those waiting to hear his fate, former turnpike commission CEO Joe Brimmeier from Pittsburgh is accused of bid rigging and trading political contributions for turnpike contracts.
But during the five days of testimony, one prosecution witness seemed to support a defense claim. An engineering firm associate testified that not long after her firm was awarded a contract, it was asked for a $12,000 political donation.
Brimmeier was furious and told her “we are not a pay for play organization.”
And yet, another witness, the former turnpike chief of staff, testified that Brimmeier asked her to modify the strengths and weaknesses of a firm that got a low initial rating to monitor toll lanes – to make the firm look better.
The collective impression painted by prosecutors is a corrupt organization from its then CEO to its then chairman and to former Pennsylvania State Senators like Robert Mellow, who is already in prison after conviction in an unrelated case, and who is a defendant in this case.
His former chief of staff testified he believed Brimmeier as CEO would look out for Mellow and senate democrats and when things were happening regarding jobs, they’d know about it.
Mellow’s former chief of staff also testified that Mellow lobbied for PNC Capital Markets to get Turnpike bond work.
But, Mellow’s attorney got him to admit PNC was highly qualified, given its size and experience, to do the work.
When the preliminary hearings began last month, neither Brimmeier nor his attorney would say much, preferring to wait until the hearings conclude.
Since the state attorney general filed the latest charges, the current turnpike commission named an advisory committee to look at turnpike practices and procedures.