Records: Taxpayers paid $300K for turnpike scandal fees

Written by The Associated Press | Oct 26, 2015 11:14 AM

Defendant Jeffrey Suzenski, right, walks past news photogrpahers for his arraignment before District Judge William Wenner Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in Harrisburg, Pa. Suzenski is one of seven people named in Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathlen Kane's announcement of charges against a former state Senate leader and seven others in what they called a "pay to play" case involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)

(Harrisburg) --  Records show that taxpayers paid nearly $300,000 for the legal fees of former officials convicted amid the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission corruption scandal. 

Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo Jr. tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review the state paid legal fees for four defendants until they were charged with crimes in 2013.

He says the turnpike stopped paying their legal fees once their names appeared in the grand jury presentment. 

Prosecutors alleged the officials were involved in a pay-to-play scheme where campaign contributions flowed to favored officials in return for contracts.

They say vendors doled out gifts including sports tickets, limo rides, travel and meals. 

Eric Epstein, co-founder of a government reform group, says the fees represent a "double crime.''

He says some defendants pleaded guilty while taxpayers were paying their fees.

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