PA Turnpike Pay-to-Play defendants will go to trial
Updated: Tuesday, August 13 2013, 02:40 PM CDT
Harrisburg -- Closing arguments started first thing Tuesday morning, and lasted into the afternoon in the PA Turnpike Pay-to=Play scandal.
Only the defense attorney for former Turnpike Commission Chairman Mitchell Rubin waived to court argument on the evidence that his client asked turnpike vendors for campaign contributions.
The other five defense attorneys all argued that the government had not proved enough to move the case forward.
They argued consultant Jeff Suzenski's trips and meals for turnpike officials were no more than hospitality and client relations.
They added that former Chief Executive Officer Joe Brimmeier, who did not attend Tuesday's session, didn't take a penny from anyone and never asked anyone for political contributions.
But the prosecutor argued that access to Brimmeier gave the PA Senate access to jobs and the prosecution argued former State Senator Robert Mellow, now in federal prison in connection with a separate case, specifically told a staffer to sell ten thousand dollars worth of campaign tickets to turnpike vendors.
They argued that vendor Dennis Miller bragged that he had work in the bag because he had access to turnpike information he shouldn't have had. In the end the judge sided with the prosecution, ruling that all should go to trial.
Some defense attorneys were in shock.
“I'm very surprised and disappointed in the judges’ ruling and beyond that anything else I say is going to get me in trouble so I'm not going to say it,” Brimmeier’s attorney, William Winner commented.
“We argued strenuously that there was no evidence connecting Robert Mellow to any improper conduct,” mentioned Robert Mellow’s attorney, Sal Cognetti. “We are confident that the record reflects that.”
The defendants will be formally arraigned in the fall, around the same time two other defendants have their preliminary hearings.