Mellow Implicated In Turnpike Scheme

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HARRISBURG -- A disgraced former state senator is now facing more charges in what the state attorney general calls a pay-to-play scheme.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced charges against former state senator Robert Mellow, five officials or workers with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and two businessmen who had multi-million dollar contracts with the Turnpike.

As Mellow sits in a federal prison in South Carolina, new corruption charges have been filed against him.

Kane just wrapped up a news conference in Harrisburg.turnpike.psd

Kane said a grand jury heard evidence of secret gifts of cash, travel, and entertainment, and political contributions to public officials and political organizations, by Turnpike vendors and consultants.

"The grand jury found that these men were using the Turnpike to line their pockets and to influence elections," said Kane. "That is stealing from the public, pure and simple."

Kane says Mellow played a large role in what she calls a "pay to play" scheme that stole millions of public dollars at taxpayers' expense.

Kane said Mellow was at the top of the scheme, a scheme Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan says showed "a culture of greed, corruption and political influence that is beyond imagination."

Others in the alleged scheme include former turnpike executives, and vendors who had multi-million dollar contracts with the turnpike.

Here's how the scheme reportedly worked:

The vendors showered Mellow and turnpike executives with cash, trips, major league baseball tickets, and substantial political contributions, all in exchange for lucrative turnpike contracts over a ten-year period.

What this means for Mellow is criminal charges that include corrupt organizations, commercial bribery, criminal conspiracy, and unlawful bid-rigging.

You can read the entire grand jury presentment here.

Newswatch 16 has learned that Robert Mellow is expected to be brought to Harrisburg to be arraigned on these new charges.

These new charges carry punishments that could essentially amount to decades in state prison for the 70-year-old former state senator.

Mellow was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison in November, 2012 after pleading guilty in May to corruption charges.

He is currently in a federal prison in South Carolina.