UPDATE 2:18pm

The Maine Turnpike Authority says its former executive director misused nearly $500,000 in turnpike funds in the form of gift cards, credit card charges and vacation and sick leave pay he wasn’t entitled to.

The authority filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday against Paul Violette, who resigned in March.

The suit claims Violette can’t account for $160,000 worth of gift cards for upscale hotels and restaurants, and fraudulently converted at least $90,000 of them to his personal use.

The lawsuit also claims Violette was overpaid by $161,000 for unused vacation time and sick leave after falsely claiming he hadn’t taken any vacation or sick leave during his 23 years at the agency.

Violette’s attorney, Peter DeTroy, wasn’t immediately available for comment.
 

(AP)

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2:14pm

The Maine Turnpike Authority has sued former executive director Paul Violette in an effort to recover personal expenses charged to the agency, according to an Maine Turnpike Authority press release.

The suit, filed in Cumberland Country Superior Court today, is expected to be released this afternoon.

“The suit seeks restitution from Violette for certain personal expenditures and reimbursements charged to the Turnpike Authority from 2003 to 2010,” said the press release.

The MTA said the suit follows a forensic audit of the agency’s finances that was ordered by MTA’s leaders after a January report by Maine’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability.

That report found questionable spending practices at the agency, and revealed that  the MTA purchased $157,000 worth of gift cards in 2005 and 2006. The cards, some from posh hotels, were donated to other organizations and appeared to be unrelated to turnpike business.

Violette resigned from the agency after 23 years in March.

The MTA managed the 106-mile toll road and collects roughly $100 million annually in tolls.
 

By J. Hemmerdinger / Staff Writer
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