Former Maine Turnpike Authority Executive Director Paul Violette was sentenced today to three-and-a-half years in prison for stealing more than $150,000 in authority funds.
Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court Justice Roland Cole sentenced Violette to seven years in prison with all but three-and-one-half years suspended and 1,500 hours of community service after his release, according to a press release from Attorney General William Schneider. Violette pleaded guilty in February to one Class B theft charge involving his unauthorized use of gift cards and credit cards purchased with turnpike authority funds for personal travel, meals and other expenses. Class B theft is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but Violette only faced up to five years as part of a plea agreement.
An Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability investigation found that Violette had, among other things, used gift cards to finance his own spa treatments and visits to Quebec City for himself, his family and friends. He also used MTA funds for trips to Italy, Spain and France. OPEGA concluded that between 2004 and 2010 Violette stole $175,000 to $230,000.
Peter Mills took over as MTA director when Violette stepped down in March 2011. In December, Violette and the MTA settled a lawsuit for $430,000, $155,000 of which Violette will personally pay, while the rest will come from bonding companies.