Five Ohio Turnpike employees will be suspended

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Five employees of the Ohio Turnpike Commission will be suspended without pay and six will receive letters of reprimand for taking gratuities from contractors, a turnpike official said Friday.

Jack Marchbanks, the turnpike's interim executive director, said all are high-ranking employees, but he declined to release their names because he has not talked to them or sent notification letters yet. The discipline was discussed Thursday at an executive session of the commission.

The suspensions without pay will range from one to three days.

Last August, Inspector General Thomas General released a report that documented 170 instances from 1999 to 2001 in which high-ranking turnpike employees accepted free meals, gifts, golf outings, sports tickets and luxury seating at sports events with food and beverages included from companies doing business with the commission.

Gino Zomparelli, the turnpike's former executive director, resigned Aug. 8 amid allegations of taking gifts from contractors.

Marchbanks said an executive director could be hired by the five-member turnpike board at its Dec. 9 meeting.

Charles said he agreed with the discipline.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)