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Former Maine Turnpike Director Takes the Fifth
04/15/2011 11:50 AM ET  

Paul Violette refused to answer questions about about lavish Turnpike Authority spending identified by the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee.

The Legislature's Government Oversight Committee has identified $1 million in lavishing spending--including $200,000 that might be illegal--during an investigation into the Maine Turnpike Authority.

During a hearing Friday, Sen. Roger Katz chastized former director Paul Violette. "In a time, sir, when some of our constituents have trouble putting food on their table, that you and other turnpike officials were spending thousands of dollars of public funds, eating at some of the finest restaurants in the world, in Puerto Rico, in Atlantic City, and in Nice, France, among others."

Katz tried to question Violette, but he declined to answer. Violette stared downward, and made an occasional grimace.

Violette stepped down amid questions about turnpike finances and $157,000 in gift cards that were handed out. The committee believes Violette was using many of gift cards for his own use, including at fancy hotels around the world, and a clothing store to buy a tuxedo.

At one point, Katz looked at Violette and asked: "If you caught a tolltaker taking money from the cash drawer, what would you have done?'' Violette didn't answer.

(This story contains material copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)



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