HARRISBURG - Mitchell Rubin, the onetime chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, pleaded guilty Thursday to commercial bribery and will serve no jail time for his role in the pay-to-play scheme involving the agency.
Rubin appeared in Dauphin County Court to enter a plea to one count of commercial bribery, a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Under the terms of the plea deal with the state Attorney General's Office, Rubin will receive 24 months of probation, serve 100 hours of community service, and pay a $2,500 fine.
"I just apologize for anything I did wrong," Rubin told Dauphin County Judge Richard A. Lewis. "I followed the custom when I should have followed the law."
Rubin had originally been charged with unlawful bid rigging and criminal conspiracy, among several other crimes, for what prosecutors said was exchanging personal gifts and political contributions for contracts.
It was not clear Thursday whether Rubin would be able to keep his pension. The offense to which he pleaded, a misdemeanor, is not on the list of those that would qualify for automatically revoking the pension, said J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office.
The turnpike case is one of the biggest public corruption cases for the state Attorney General's Office. Six men were charged with participating in a blatant and crude pay-to-play scheme.
The case centers on prosecutors' contention that turnpike officials used their posts to pressure contractors into making political contributions as a price of doing business.
Charges were recently struck by the judge or dropped by prosecutors against former State Sen. Robert J. Mellow, a Democrat from the Scranton area. Two turnpike vendors, Jeffrey Suzenski and Dennis Miller, were offered deals under which all charges against them could eventually be dismissed.
That leaves two others in the case: former turnpike chief executive Joseph Brimmeier and former chief operating officer George Hatalowich.
Their trial was scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection, but Abbott said that a continuance had been issued.
A new date had not yet been scheduled, Abbott said.
Abbott would not comment on whether the office was seeking deals with Brimmeier or Hatalowich.
The prosecution has suffered its share of setbacks in recent months. In August, the lead prosecutor in the case, Laurel Brandstetter, left the Attorney General's Office. Then, in October, the office's senior executive deputy attorney general, Linda Dale Hoffa, who was overseeing the case, also left the office.