PORTLAND — The Maine Turnpike Authority and Paul Violette have reached a settlement to resolve a lawsuit that alleged misconduct by the quasi-state agency’s former executive director.

Under the agreement, Violette will pay the authority $155,000, a sum he has indicated under oath that represents his present net worth, according to the authority. Violette, a lawyer and a former Democratic state legislator who had been Senate majority leader, is unemployed. Two bonding companies, Travelers Casualty and CNA Surety will pay $175,000 and $100,000.

Authority officials said the total of those payments — $430,000 — represents the damages that could have been proven at trial. The authority’s board voted unanimously to accept the arrangement on Thursday.

“We have recovered the money to which we are entitled and plan to reinvest it back into Turnpike operations,” Daniel Wathen, the authority’s board chairman, said in a prepared statement.

The accusations leveled against Violette in the lawsuit include failing to account for more than $160,000 worth of gift cards, lying about $161,000 worth of vacation and sick time and making tens of thousands of dollars in improper credit-card charges. The gift and credit card allegations were for purchases between 2003 and 2010. They ranged from gasoline to the rental of a Italian villa and a flight to Martha’s Vineyard to a $1,000 cash advance at a Puerto Rico casino.

The authority sued Violette in Cumberland County Superior Court in July. That court action came after a report by the Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability questioned spending by the authority and after Violette resigned, bringing an end to his 23-year tenure as executive director.

Peter DeTroy, Violette’s lawyer, said his client does not admit to any of the allegations in the lawsuit. DeTroy noted that the accusations included those about gift cards for which there was no paper trail to determine their use, which he said didn’t have to do with whether Violette committed wrongful acts.

“He has an interest in trying to resolve those claims, particularly with other potential matters he may be facing,” DeTroy said.

DeTroy was referring to possible criminal charges against Violette, who is the subject of an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Violette did not returns calls to his home seeking comment Thursday. In April, Violette cited his right against self-incrimination when he would not answer questions about purchases during a hearing before the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee.

Authority staff and its auditing firm, Runyon, Kersteen & Ouellette, determined the extent of the loss, according to Peter Mills, a former Republican lawmaker who replaced Violette as the authority’s executive director. He described the resolution among the parties as complex.

The lawsuit had asked the court to freeze $450,000 worth of Violette’s assets to satisfy its claims. The suit included a list of questionable expenditures that warranted investigation but that the authority may not have been able to prove, according to Dan Morin, an authority spokesman. He said that is why the $430,000 from the settlement was deemed a full recovery.

The authority had surety bonds on some employees through Travelers Casualty and CNA Surety to protect the authority from losses from employee failure to meet fiduciary obligations and allegations of fraud, according Morin. Two bonding companies were involved because the authority had switched carriers.

Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said he was not surprised by the amount of the settlement, given the OPEGA review and the internal audit.

“It’s good news for the authority, but another sad chapter in the saga — another reminder of the staggering lack of oversight by the authority, by its board, under the old regime,” said Katz, the chairman of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee.

Katz said the authority, under the leadership of Wathen and Mills, were re-establishing the credibility of the authority.

Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, said the recouped funds will help the authority maintain a vital transportation corridor.

“I’m glad the state is getting it back and that MTA is getting it back. I think that’s an important message going forward for any of the quasi-governmental agencies: that you need to run a tight ship and you need to be open and transparent and steps will be taken if that’s not the case,” said York, a former chairwoman for the Government Oversight Committee.

Turnpike employees got a sense of public anger over allegations of misconduct by Violette, said Brian Oelberg, field representative for the Maine State Employees Association. He said toll collectors, in particular, bore the brunt of verbal abuse from patrons who didn’t have a way to yell at Violette.

“The mismanagement under Paul Violette is hopefully being put to bed and the Turnpike can move forward as an institution,” said Oelberg, the chief negotiator for the Turnpike employees unit. “The employees, they were never the ones handing out gift cards and going on junkets.”

Examples of alleged fraudulent credit card purchases by Paul Violette:

Villa rental in Italy: $3,239.99

3-day trip to Western Massachusetts: $984.30

Foxwoods restaurant: $479.34

Gas purchase in Bingham and Jackman: $52.54

Hotel and restaurant charges in the French Riviera: $2,820.37

Cash advance at Puerto Rico casino: $1,000

Barber charges: $87

Redemption of 87 gift certificates at the Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City: $8,700 Canadian

Deb’s Flowers in New Brunswick: $392.47

Source: Maine Turnpike Authority lawsuit filed against Violette in Cumberland County Superior Court

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