The turnpike scandal: More wet noodles
How disgusting it is to see that good-old-fashioned bribery is not only alive and well in Pennsylvania, the State of Corruption, but tolerated, if not encouraged, by the state judiciary.
No other conclusion can be drawn from the latest round of sentencing — more wet noodles to hardly contrite wrists — of those convicted in the state Turnpike Commission pay-to-play scandal.
Guilty pleas were entered Thursday in Dauphin County Common Pleas Court by Joe Brimmeier, the commission’s former CEO (and once the supposed favorite of Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald to head the Port Authority), and George Hatalowich, the commission’s former chief operating officer, to felony conflict of interest charges.
Mr. Brimmeier, of Ross, accepted “free hospitality” from an engineering firm and solicited donations for the campaign of former Gov. Ed Rendell in return for influencing contract awards. Mr. Hatalowich, of Harrisburg, accepted the same kinds of “free hospitality” from another engineering firm for the same kind of consideration.
And for accepting such rank bribes and making a mockery of the public trust, these “public servants” turned self-servants were sentenced by Judge Robert A. Lewis to — drum roll, please — five years’ probation, fined $2,500 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.
That’s not a punishment for such a crime. It’s an undeserved gift. And it’s outrageous.