Former Maine turnpike director subpoenaed

Posted April 01, 2011, at 3:17 p.m.
Last modified April 01, 2011, at 5:12 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The former head of the Maine Turnpike Authority is being subpoenaed to testify before a legislative committee.  

The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee has issued a subpoena for Paul Violette, who resigned from the Maine Turnpike Authority after 23 years last month amid questions and criticism about turnpike finances and his leadership.  

The committee is investigating the authority’s spending and businesses practices, including $157,000 in gift certificates to upscale hotels and restaurants that Violette gave out to charitable organizations and trade groups but didn’t keep any paperwork on.  

Violette likely will assert his constitutional right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer any questions that imply he was involved in any criminal misconduct, Portland attorney Peter DeTroy, who represents Violette, told the Portland Press Herald.  

The turnpike authority, which oversees the 109-mile Maine Turnpike at the southern end of the state, has come under fire since a report by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability questioned the authority’s relationship with an engineering firm, its policies on travel and meal expenses, and how it manages its service contracts and calculates its operating budget.  

What got many legislators’ attention was $157,000 worth of gift certificates that Violette gave out to charitable organizations and trade groups between 2005 and 2007. Violette has not been able to document who received the cards precisely, but says they were given out for fundraising purposes.  

In all, the OPEGA report identified at least $454,000 in sponsorships and donations that the authority made to as many as 50 different charitable and noncharitable organizations.  

The Government Oversight Committee last month agreed to issue subpoenas to gift card vendors and to notify Maine Turnpike Authority officials to be prepared to testify under oath on April 15.

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