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The Mitch Rubin sentence: Another wet noodle

Only in Pennsylvania, the State of Corruption, could a high-ranking former state official be given probation for engaging in that time-honored public service crime of accepting a bribe. Yet that’s the sentence recommended by prosecutors and agreed to by a Dauphin County judge after Mitchell Rubin, the former chairman of the state Turnpike Commission, pleaded guilty Thursday.

Mr. Rubin, 62, of Philadelphia, originally was charged with 10 counts in a pay-to-play scheme in which contracts were awarded in exchange for political contributions and gifts. Nine counts were dropped when he agreed to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor count of “commercial bribery.”

Despite the offense carrying a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine, Judge Richard Lewis sentenced Rubin to two years’ probation, 100 hours of community service and a $2,500 fine. There was no agreement to testify against others; Rubin offered a non-apology apology “for anything I did wrong.”

And it’s not the first time Mitch Rubin has skated past the jail cell door. Four years ago, he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the unrelated Vincent Fumo fraud case and was sentenced to five years’ probation.

These are the kinds of sentences — wet noodles lightly rapped against knuckles protected by government-issue kid gloves — that only invite more corruption. As if Pennsylvania hasn’t had more than enough of “public servants” engaged in self-service.


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