By Tony Romeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin this morning for six of eight defendants charged in connection with “pay to play” schemes at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

The big fish among those charged in the Turnpike corruption case are the agency’s former CEO Joseph Brimmeier.

Others are former Turnpike Commissioner Mitchell Rubin and the former longtime Democratic leader of the state Senate, Robert Mellow, who is currently in prison after pleading guilty in a federal corruption case.

In March, the attorney general’s office charged all three with bribery, bid-rigging, conspiracy and other offenses that in the attorney general’s words, “resulted in the misdirection, misuse and theft of millions of dollars in public money” used to “line their pockets and influence elections”.

In addition to Brimmeier, Rubin, and Mellow, five others have been charged, three of whom are also the subject of today’s preliminary hearing.