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Turnpike commissioner from Connellsville quits citing stress, health

| Friday, March 22, 2013, 4:03 p.m.
Turnpike Commissioner Bill Lincoln resigned on Friday, March 22, 2013.

Former state Sen. Bill Lincoln resigned from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission on Friday, citing stress over a corruption scandal surrounding the agency.

Documents show he received immunity from prosecution for wrongdoing he admitted, and testified against others in the case.

“Given the additional personal stress over the events of the past two weeks and my already difficult battle with maintaining my health, I am no longer able to perform the duties required of a member of the commission,” Lincoln, 72, of Connellsville said in a resignation letter to Gov. Tom Corbett.

Corbett will nominate a replacement, whom the Senate must confirm.

“We respect Sen. Lincoln's decision to resign. Given the circumstances, he made the right choice,” said turnpike Chairman William K. Lieberman of Squirrel Hill.

Lincoln, who did not return a call, served as a key witness in a 44-month statewide grand jury investigation of what the state Attorney General's office described as a “pay-to-play” scheme. The grand jury alleges that companies' campaign contributions and gifts helped secure lucrative turnpike contracts. Eight people face charges.

Lincoln agreed to testify after getting immunity, the grand jury presentment said. He admitted receiving $3,100 in gift certificates to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County from an engineering firm, and failing to report the gifts on his annual Statement of Financial Interests, required of public officials.

In his testimony, Lincoln said former turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier of Ross, former Chairman Mitchell Rubin and former Chief Operating Officer George Hatalowich hand-picked who would receive professional-services contracts in advance of commission meetings. Brimmeier, Rubin and Hatalowich are among those charged.

Then-Gov. Ed Rendell appointed Lincoln, a Democrat, to the commission in 2004. He served as its secretary and treasurer since 2011.

In his resignation, Lincoln said, “I am proud of my time as a commissioner and believe that the lasting improvements made to the turnpike network in Western Pennsylvania and on the Mon-Fayette Expressway and the Southern Beltway will prove to be invaluable to the future economic health of the region.”

Lincoln served in the state Senate for 16 years and acted as Senate majority leader during his final term. He was a state representative for six years.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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