Pennsylvania Turnpike Commissioner J. William Lincoln has resigned, citing his health and the stress of the state Attorney General's investigation into a pay-to-play scandal at the agency.
In his resignation letter, Lincoln, 72, said he could no longer perform the duties of his job “given the additional personal stress over the events of the past two weeks and my already difficult battle with maintaining my health.”
"It is on this note that I end my 40-year career in public service," wrote Lincoln, a former state senator.
Said Turnpike chairman William K. Lieberman: “We respect Sen. Lincoln’s decision to resign; given the circumstances, he made the right choice. Today, we recognize his 40 years of public service both in the legislature and at the Turnpike Commission, and we wish him the best as he enters a new chapter in his life.”
Last week, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced a sweeping, 85-page grand jury presentment that detailed an unabashed pay-to-play culture that authorities allege existed for the last decade at the Turnpike Commission.
Lincoln was not charged, but he did provide testimony to the grand jury under a grant of immunity during the more than three-year-long investigation. During that time, he admitted to accepting gift certificates to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in southwestern Pennsylvania from a Turnpike contractor, and not reporting them on his statements of financial disclosure.
The grand jury charged eight people, including former Senate Democratic leader Robert J. Mellow, former Turnpike Commission Chairman Mitchell Rubin, and onetime turnpike CEO Joseph Brimmeier, with crimes ranging from bribery to bid-rigging,
Mellow and others, the grand jury found, essentially used the agency as a personal cash machine, dangling the promise of lucrative turnpike contracts to raise campaign money or be lavished with meals, trips, or good seats at ballgames. The report said contractors, some more reluctant than others, played along.
Kane said the investigation is continuing.
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