Turnpike employees disciplined over sexually explicit emails |

Turnpike employees disciplined over sexually explicit emails

HARRISBURG — An internal investigation by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission found as many as a dozen employees were sending or receiving sexually explicit emails on the agency’s system, officials told the Tribune-Review.

The employees, whose names weren’t made public, were disciplined with reprimands and some suspensions, agency spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

CEO Mark Compton said sharing pornographic emails on the government system violated the commission’s policy, leading to the discipline.

“None of them were senior-level employees,” Compton said. He said the agency’s compliance department conducted the investigation.

DeFebo said he could not provide specifics when asked the time period involved.

The discovery of pornography in another state agency follows controversy for the past two months that cost more than a dozen current and former attorney general’s employees their jobs and resulted in the suspension and subsequent retirement of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, Seamus McCaffery.

McCaffery sent sexually explicit emails from his private account to a former agent in the Attorney General’s Office. The retired agent, a friend of McCaffery’s, allegedly distributed the emails to others in the office. That took place through 2012.

Sixty-one attorney general’s employees were disciplined two weeks ago. Some transmitted sexually explicit emails as late as this summer, the office said. Of those, six were fired, two resigned and 11 were suspended. Others received reprimands or were ordered to take sexual harassment classes.

“There should be a full review of every agency,” said Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp. He believes that could be done by the state Inspector General, since it involves the use of state equipment and email systems.

“It looks like it would have to be something set up by the new governor,” when Democrat Tom Wolf is sworn in Jan. 20, Stilp said.

In October, Attorney General Kathleen Kane let reporters who had filed open records requests view samples of sexually explicit emails that eight former office employees shared.

“I don’t think we can comment at this time,” said Kane’s spokeswoman, Renee Martin.

The disclosure was made the week after the final two cases in a Turnpike corruption investigation were resolved with plea agreements. Former CEO Joe Brimmeier of Ross and former Chief Operating Officer George Hatalowich of Harrisburg each pleaded guilty to one felony charge of conflict of interest and received five years’ probation.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media’s state Capitol reporter. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.