PORTLAND — Paul Violette, the former head of the Maine Turnpike Authority, is arguing that he should be incarcerated for less than a year for misappropriating gift cards worth tens of thousands of dollars for personal use.

Violette, who led the turnpike authority for 23 years, pleaded guilty to the felony offense of theft in February. Under a plea agreement, his possible prison time was capped at five years — the amount of time being requested by the prosecutor. Violette, 56, is to be sentenced in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Friday.

Violette potentially used as much as $230,706.56 in turnpike authority funds for personal use, including stays at high-end hotels in Maine and abroad, family vacations, spa treatments and a deposit on a tuxedo, according to the prosecution. Violette admits to misappropriating gift cards worth $100,000 to $150,000 between 2003 and 2010.

Violette is requesting a sentence of 30 months with all but 12 months or less suspended, along with probation and community service. A sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday argues that although his conduct was wrong, Violette’s actions didn’t constitute the most egregious ways of committing the offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

“It was not committed in a violent manner and there was no likelihood that it would result in confrontation or altercation with a victim. Mr. Violette did not conspire with anyone to commit this crime. He did not forge checks, or attempt to cover up his use of the gift cards by ‘cooking the books,’” stated the memo submitted by Peter DeTroy, Violette’s lawyer.

The memo cites mitigating factors, including Violette’s taking responsibility by pleading guilty, paying restitution and expressing genuine remorse. Violette, who has no other criminal history, is also an excellent candidate for rehabilitation and has been volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen in Portland for months, according to the document.

In her sentencing memo, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin argues for the full five years of imprisonment allowed under the plea deal. She noted that Violette lied about the purpose of the gift cards, saying they were part of a “civic involvement” effort; continued to use them after being warned to rein in his expenses; and deterred employees from reporting his expenses.

“The most egregious aspect of this case is that Violette was the executive director of the agency — the highest ranking full-time employee — and as such, he was responsible for safeguarding the agency’s funds. Instead, he diverted them to support an extravagant lifestyle,” Robbin wrote in her memo filed last week.

Violette was well-compensated during his tenure, earning $138,720, including cashed-in sick and vacation time in 2011, Robbin wrote.

Violette, a former lobbyist and Democratic state lawmaker, resigned as executive director of the turnpike authority in March 2011. His thefts came to light after the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee asked in 2009 that the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability probe the finances of the quasi-state agency.

The authority sued Violette in July. Under the settlement reached in December, Violette agreed to pay restitution of $155,000 — a sum that represents his entire net worth.

It’s not clear where Violette would serve time. The Maine State Prison is for those serving sentences of more than five years. Other possibilities include the Charleston Correctional Center in Penobscot County, the Bolduc Correctional Center in Warren or — if his incarceration period is less than a year — the Cumberland County Jail.

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