AUGUSTA — Charges on the credit cards the Maine Turnpike Authority issued to Executive Director Paul Violette show the style in which he traveled as he met with bankers, engineers and toll organizations in North America and Europe.

Violette, who resigned in March after leading the authority for 23 years, stayed at luxury hotels such as the Castle Hill Inn in Newport, R.I., $631 per night; The Bellagio in Las Vegas, $654 per night; and The Surrey on the East Side of Manhattan, $689 per night.

The turnpike authority, a quasi-state agency, collects about $100 million year in tolls along the 109-mile highway from Kittery to Augusta.

The Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, whose review covered 2005 to 2009, found that the turnpike authority spent a total of $947,000 on meals and travel in that period.

While the authority has had a comprehensive policy for travel by its staff, the review showed instances in which it paid for items and services that where either discouraged or prohibited under the policy, such as limousine service, expensive hotels, in-room movies and alcoholic beverages.

It also showed that travel and meal expenses charged to the authority’s credit cards did not have all of the required documentation — such as detailed receipts, time, place, the names of people who participated, and the purpose of the expenses.

Many of the expenses had no documentation at all.

Violette dined at The Carlyle, an elegant white-glove restaurant in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, $816 for a meal with “various individuals”; and the Jean Georges, a four-star French restaurant in midtown Manhattan, $754 for a meal with “various individuals”.

In 2005, he flew to France for a summit of the finance committee of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. He was a member of the committee and was president of the association in 2001.

Violette and “various individuals” spent $2,820 for lodging and meals at La Chèvre d’Or in Eze, France, and $7,976 at the Hotel Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice.

Violette also traveled in 2005 to Puerto Rico and Toronto.

In 2006, the turnpike authority spent $2,377 for a night at The Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., for 10 people, including Turnpike Authority staff members and officials from HNTB, an engineering firm.

Many of Violette’s biggest expenses, though, were charged close to home, often for large functions with Turnpike Authority board members and senior turnpike officials.

In December 2004, a meal at the Black Point Inn on Prouts Neck in Scarborough cost $4,562. A year later, lodging at the Black Point Inn cost the turnpike authority $5,533.

Also in 2005, the turnpike authority spent $1,793 for a “planning retreat” for senior officials at the Sebasco Harbor Resort in Phippsburg.

From June 22 to 27, 2006, Violette charged $5,711 for meals and lodging at restaurants and hotels in the Portland area, including $1,052 for a meal at the Royal River Grill in Yarmouth and $3,886 for food and lodging at the Portland Harbor Hotel.

The purpose of the spending, was listed as “directors meeting and dinner” and a visit with officials from IAG, a business consulting company.

In 2008, the turnpike authority spent $2,673 for a “summer soirée” for about 40 people at the Saltwater Grille in South Portland.

That summer, Bar Lola on Portland’s Munjoy Hill become a favorite for Violette and “various individuals.” The turnpike authority spent $1,653 for five dinners at the restaurant.

In total from 2005 to 2009, Violette billed his agency more than $200,000 for hotels, meals and other expenses, according to documents obtained by the Legislature’s oversight office.

The accountability office released the summary of the turnpike authority’s spending in a report to the Legislature in January.

Tom Bell — 699-6261

[email protected]

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