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Turnpike Board Approves Civil Restitution from Violette

Maine Turnpike: Thinking Ahead FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 15, 2011
Erin Courtney
CONTACT: Dan Morin (MTA)

Turnpike Board Approves Civil Restitution from Violette

Turnpike to recover $430,000 from Violette and two bonding companies

PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Turnpike Authority today agreed to accept full reimbursement for the damages that could have been proved at trial resulting from misconduct by its former executive director Paul Violette. The Turnpike will receive $430,000 from Violette and two bonding companies.

“We have recovered the money to which we are entitled and plan to reinvest it back into Turnpike operations,” said MTA Board Chairman Daniel Wathen. He added, “This financial recovery is independent of any criminal investigation or actions that may be taken by the Office of the Maine Attorney General.”

According to Executive Director Peter Mills, the evaluation of the loss was the product of extensive work by Turnpike staff and its auditing firm, Runyon, Kersteen & Ouellette. He said, "What followed were intense negotiations leading to payments from three sources: $155,000 from Violette, $175,000 from Travelers Casualty and $100,000 from CNA Surety. The resolution was complex and required a high level of cooperation from all parties."

The amount coming personally from Violette is based on a disclosure under oath that the payment is equivalent in value to his present net worth.

Mills added, “The Board has taken a series of responsible measures to ensure that the Turnpike now operates with the highest standards and fiscal integrity. Our goal is to continue improving the operational efficiency of the Turnpike and to maintain its strong financial rating.” The Board has implemented a number of financial controls that include a system for compliance auditing and strengthened internal controls.

Violette resigned in March following a report from the Maine Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) that examined Turnpike operations, policies and procedures. The report, as a whole, outlined a positive picture of the Turnpike and its operations, but questioned expenditures made by Violette over a period of years and cited his inability to account for certain funds that fell under his personal control.

In July, the Turnpike hired Attorney John Whitman to file a lawsuit in Cumberland County Superior Court seeking restitution. Mills stated, "Attorney Whitman, Attorney Peter Detroy for Mr. Violette, and the claims personnel from both bonding companies are all to be commended for their diligence in helping to resolve the Turnpike's claims."