CASE UPDATE: Former PennDOT Executive Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes in Exchange for State Contracts

January 22, 2019 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that a former PennDOT official pled guilty to conflict of interest – restricted activities, a felony, for soliciting and accepting bribes from at least one contractor in exchange for continued contracts with the state transportation agency. He was sentenced to 9 to 23 months home incarceration, a $10,000 fine and 50 hours of community service.

Nicholas Martino, 53, of Penn View Lane, Norristown, was charged in June 2018 for accepting payments from an unidentified PennDOT contractor. In exchange for the payments over an eight year period, Martino continued the contractor’s existing contracts with PennDOT, even when the contractor did not perform the work they were obligated to do.

“This state employee played with taxpayer money in order to get a payout for himself,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “He accepted bribes and knowingly allowed a contractor to not perform their work under their contract with state government. No one is above the law – and my Office will continue prosecuting corruption and holding public officials accountable.”

The investigation began in 2013 when Office of Attorney General agents received a tip about corruption in the Southeast Pennsylvania office of PennDOT. A cooperating witness gave evidence against Martino, who oversaw general maintenance and roadside management programs in his role as Assistant District Executive for PennDOT’s District Six.

After a contractor who paid bribes to Martino did not perform the work for which they were paid to do, Martino looked the other way. He even had one Bucks County inspector fired for refusing to approve the work the contractor had not performed.

Marino was employed by PennDOT as Assistant District Executive between 2006 and 2014.

In 2014, following the conclusion of a statewide investigating Grand Jury, 10 PennDOT managers and employees were charged with overbilling the state transportation agency by millions over a three-year period in exchange for kickbacks from contractors. The investigation also resulted in guilty pleas of owners of two firms that have been doing business with PennDOT. Chris Czop, President of CZOP plead guilty and was sentenced in January 2018. Contractor Thanh Nguyen, owners of V-Tech Services and Utility Line Clearance plead guilty in 2016 to corrupt organization and theft by deception in 2016.

Attorney General Shapiro noted the strong collaboration between the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and cooperation of PennDOT officials during the course of the investigation leading to the charge being filed against Martino.

“PennDOT employees from top to bottom work very hard each day to earn the trust of the people of Pennsylvania,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We do not tolerate any activity that undermines that trust and, as in this case, when we learn of illegal activity within our ranks, we work immediately to root it out.”

Martino was sentenced by Judge Todd Eisenberg in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. The case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy Attorney General Erik Olsen.

# # #