Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission hires private eye

Posted: May 24, 2012

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has quietly hired a private investigator from Western Pennsylvania to examine the turnpike’s purchasing and contract-compliance practices.

The turnpike authority hired Corporate Security and Investigations of Monaca, Pa., for $75,000 a year to provide “confidential investigative and audit services related to procurement, contract compliance and invoicing policies and practices as they apply to vendors providing supplies, services or construction.”

The turnpike and some of its employees have been under investigation by a state grand jury in Pittsburgh that is looking into possible corruption and fraud. That long-running probe has yet to produce much in the way of visible results.

In 2009, the turnpike hired its first inspector general “to investigate fraud, waste and mismanagement,” but the private firm’s duties will be in addition to the inspector general’s work, turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said Tuesday.

The private investigation firm is headed by Louis Gentile, a former State Police investigator and former director of the Bureau of Narcotics and Drug Control for the state Attorney General’s Office.

The firm’s contract with the turnpike calls for it to conduct “discreet background investigations as may be requested from time to time and approved by the CEO [Roger Nutt]. Such services shall include but shall not be limited to the review of certain entities that sold or desire to sell property to the commission.”

The hiring of Gentile’s firm was approved by the commission last month in a last-minute move. The proposed hiring was not on the public agenda announced before the April 17 meeting.

Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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