Pennsylvania Turnpike ex-worker pleads guilty to theft

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A former Pennsylvania Turnpike employee who pleaded guilty Monday to theft and two other charges will not testify against the defendants in a far-reaching alleged pay-to-play scheme at the agency, his attorney said.

Raymond Zajicek, 68, of Tarpon Springs, Fla., was among the defendants Attorney General Kathleen Kane named in March when she announced prosecution for a scheme operated at the turnpike for financial and political gain.

But both Mr. Zajicek’s attorney, David Berardinelli, and a spokesman for attorney general, Joseph Peters, said Monday that Mr. Zajicek’s case was unrelated to the main Turnpike matter.

“There are no plans for Ray to testify in any other proceedings, including the other Turnpike matter, which is separate and unrelated from the proceeding involving my client,” Mr. Berardinelli said in an email.

Mr. Zajicek pleaded guilty to one count of theft, one count of unauthorized use of a vehicle and one count of harassment. Prosecutors said he had committed theft by not working the full hours required of his job and that he had used a car belonging to the turnpike for personal business.

He was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay restitution.

In her announcement 10 months ago, Ms. Kane revealed charges against eight men, including former state Sen. Bob Mellow, former turnpike commissioner Mitchell Rubin, former turnpike chief executive officer Joseph Brimmeier, former turnpike chief operating officer George Hatalowich and Mr. Zajicek.

Mr. Brimmeier had been a member of the board of the Port Authority of Allegheny County until the day before the grand jury handed up its presentment.

The grand jury report said contractors for the turnpike were expected to donate to the campaigns of public officials. The grand jury also heard evidence of secret gifts of cash, travel and entertainment, according to the attorney general’s office.

Charges in the case include conspiracy, commercial bribery, bid-rigging, theft, conflict of interest and corrupt organization violations. Mr. Peters said Monday the charges against Mr. Zajicek were unrelated to that turnpike case.

A trial date has not been set in the case against six of the turnpike defendants.


Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com or 1-717-787-2141 or on Twitter @karen_langley.

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