Gov. Paul LePage on Friday signed a bill that could prevent public employees convicted of certain crimes from receiving their pensions. Dubbed the "Violette bill," it was signed the same day former Maine Turnpike Authority director Paul Violette was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for misusing MTA funds.
The bill allows a court to order the forfeiture of benefits through the Maine Public Employees Retirement System if that person is convicted of a crime related to his or her position as a public employee, according to a press release from LePage's office. The bill also allows amounts credited to the person's pension account to be used to pay any court-ordered restitution to the state or a state agency.
"It is wrong to expect Maine taxpayers to continue to pay for retirement benefits for an elected official that has participated in illegal activity while serving public office or employment," LePage said in the release.
Violette was elected MTA executive director by its board in 1987.
The bill was introduced in response to Violette's theft of more than $150,000 in MTA funds. The bill will not apply to Violette, who will keep his nearly $5,300-a-month state pension. Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court Justice Roland Cole on Friday 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. He also previously settled a lawsuit with the MTA for $430,000, $155,000 of which Violette will personally pay, while the rest will come from bonding companies.