MTA announces suit against Violette

Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2011 in Investigation

MTA announces suit against Violette

by Gina Hamilton

PORTLAND -- On Tuesday, the Maine Turnpike Authority board filed suit to seek civil damages against former executive director Paul Violette.

Violette cannot account for more than $160,000 worth of gift cards that board members suspect were used for his and his family's personal use, while travelling in Europe and the Bahamas.

According to the MTA's complaint lodged in Cumberland County Superior Court, the board is also seeking reimbursement for funds it gave Violette upon his resignation, when he claimed that he did not take vacation time or sick days during his tenure.  Upon closer inspection, the Authority has determined that he did take personal time, and wants him to repay that part of his severance package.

The Authority alleged that that Violette fradulently used gift cards, credit cards, vacation time and sick time, costing the quasi-state agency more than $524,000 over the last decade. But in its civil complaint filed Tuesday, the agency asked for $450,000 in restitution.

Violette and his attorney have 20 days to respond, after which the process moves to discovery, which could last up to eight months, before the case goes before a judge.

However, Violette may be facing criminal charges with respect to the credit card and gift card issue.  If a criminal charge is filed, the civil charge will be put on hold until the outcome of that legal proceeding.

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