Final criminal charge in turnpike corruption case dropped against Mellow, former Pa. senator

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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — State prosecutors on Thursday dropped the final criminal charge that former state Sen. Bob Mellow had faced in a public corruption investigation centered on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

A county judge in Harrisburg granted a request by the attorney general's office to dismiss a conspiracy count against Mellow, once the Senate's Democratic floor leader.

A state prosecutor wrote in a court filing that after the judge dismissed all six other counts against Mellow last week, she did not think she would be able to prove the conspiracy case.

Mellow attorney Dan Brier said the decision was the correct one.

"Our view is the case was baseless and it was based on an unfair and biased investigation that was done by the former attorney general's office," Brier said. "It took 18 months, but when tested, the case fell apart."

The remaining defendants are former turnpike chairman Mitchell Rubin, former chief executive Joe Brimmeier and former chief operating officer George Hatalowich.

State prosecutors claim the former state officials used control over lucrative turnpike contracts to rig bids, profit financially and influence political campaigns.

Two former turnpike employees got probation after pleading guilty earlier this year to charges that included theft and unauthorized use of a state vehicle.

The presiding judge has agreed with prosecutors to let two other defendants, both former turnpike vendors, enter a diversion program in which the charges will be dropped after two years of probation.

Mellow was released from federal custody earlier this year after serving an unrelated public corruption sentence for mail fraud.

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