AG: No Indictments in Rhode Island State Police 38 Studios Investigation

Saturday, July 30, 2016

 

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Attorney General Peter Kilmartin

Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Colonel Steven O'Donnell along with Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced Friday afternoon that there will be no indictments in the 38 Studios criminal investigation, which had taken four years. 

O'Donnell spoke first, and acknowledged that while the process that resulted in the failed $75 million EDC loan to the failed video game company was not transparent, it wasn't criminal. 

"This was not transparent process -- there were several officials that knew that the $75M was going to 38 Studios prior to the vote, who did not disclose that info to the full House and Senate," said O'Donnell. 

"It appears the poor economic decisions contributed to the deal, and it was done with the hopes of bringing a celebrity and hundreds of jobs," said O'Donnell. "It is our duty to uncover the facts. In order to prosecute any individuals, we have to establish probable cause -- we have found no probable cause that a crime was committed. A bad deal doesn't always lead to indictments."

AG Kilmartin on Record

"To the cynics, no explanation will be sufficient. But at the end of the day, the bottom line is there is not enough evidence to bring charges against anyone," said Kilmartin. "Bad politics, bad public policy, bad business decisions do not always rise to the level of criminal conduct."

Former gubernatorial candidate and head of WatchdogRI Ken Block said it was "no surprise."

"It's not a surprise. For me this was clearly a forgone conclusion. The worst element is that Kilmartin did not recuse himself from the investigation, having formerly been a member of leadership and voting for 38 Studios," said Block.

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No indictments - the 4 year RI State Police investigation into the 38 Studios deal resulted in no criminal charges.

"I understand that complex investigative processes take a lot of time, and while Rhode Island is a small place, you can't have potential conflicts of interest getting in the way of getting to the truth," said Block. "And I'm not saying what was said today isn't the truth -- but his conflict of interest taints it."

"And more importantly, what we heard today is that there are legislators and elected officials who knew the EDC money was destined for 38 studios. Neither the State Police nor Peter Kilmartin considered that criminal -- but Rhode Islanders should know who those elected officials were who committed political malpractice," continued Block. "Voters have every right to exact vengeance on those who knew -- the Attorney General is protecting those politicians by not telling us who they are."

One to Watch in 2016

GoLocal had tapped the outcome of the investigation as one of the most important things to watch in 2016.

It's 2016, and the State of Rhode Island is nearing the four year mark on the Rhode Island State Police investigation into the collapse of 38 Studios.  When will Rhode islanders ever see the report?
Hopefully, 2016 is the year.  And the sooner, the better. 

The company folded in 2012, leaving RI taxpayers on the hook.  It was a heated campaign issue during the race for Attorney General in 2014, with Republican candidate Dawson Hodgson going on the offensive against Kilmartin time and time again. 

Judge Michael Silverstein may have allowed for the release of tens of thousands of pages of documents pertaining to 38 Studios from the state’s suit against multiple defendants, but the taxpayers of Rhode Island are still looking for answers that left them on the hook at one point for over $100 million.  

Last fall, a number of groups called for an independent investigation into the failed job guarantee program — and moral obligation bond — in light of what they said are constraints with the state’s legislative chambers, but the appeal fell short of that they asked for.

With subpoenas issued for former House Finance Chair Steven Costantino, tax credit lawyer and Gordon Fox associate Michael Corso — and 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling to appear before the General Assembly — Rhode Islanders may be waiting to see what becomes of the legislator-driven investigation, the big question is what the State Police find.

 

Related Slideshow: 38 Studios Players: Where Are They Now?

Below is an updated status of the players in the 38 Studios saga -- and where they are now -- as of October 8, 2015.

Each person's position at the time of the 38 Studios deal is listed first, and any new position is listed separately. 

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Don Carcieri

Former Governor

The former Rhode Island Governor was at the helm of both the state and the EDC at the time the 38 Studios deal was ushered through, and has kept a relatively low profile since leaving office in 2011 -- and even lower when 38 Studios collapsed the following year. 

TODAY: The former Old Stone Bank and Cookson exec was deposed in the state's lawsuit against Wells Fargo, where his three days of questions raised significant questions about the former Governor's honesty in disclosing the facts relating to the 38 Studios deal as well as concerns about the former top executive’s business judgment. 

He splits his time between Florida and RI. 

 

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Bill Murphy

Former Speaker of the House

The former Speaker of the House before Gordon Fox was one of the central key players in the 38 Studios saga -- who Rhode Island came to find out was first introduced to 38 Studios board member Thomas Zaccagnino at a meeting with Michael Corso and Gordon Fox in the fall of 2009 -- and hasn't slowed down since the demise of the ill-fated deal.  

TODAY: The lawyer-lobbyist was retained by Annheuser Busch, Twin River, RI Correctional Officers, payday lenders Advance America Cash Advance, Comcast, as well as pharmaceutical and Second Amendment groups, as well as others, during the 2015 General Assembly session. 

 

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Gordon Fox

Former Speaker of the House

The successor to Bill Murphy as Speaker of the House had help orchestrate -- and direct -- the 38 Studios deal, and was in power until March 22, 2014, when he resigned from the Speaker's post following the first ever FBI and State Police raid in Rhode Island State House history.

TODAY: Fox was sentenced this past June of 2015 to three-years in Federal prison for stealing $108,000 donated by campaign supporters to pay for personal expenses; accepting a $52,000 bribe to advocate and move for issuance of a liquor license for East Side Restaurant Shark while serving as Vice-Chairman of the City of Providence Board of Licenses in 2008; and failing to account for these illegal sources of income on his tax returns.  

Fox pled the fifth over 800 times in his state lawsuit deposition pertaining to his involvement in 38 Studios. He was recently released from federal prison.
 

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Michael Corso

Tax Credit Deal-Maker

Michael Corso over the past two decades has been able to use his relationships and political connections to make millions in fees from historic tax credits, payments on the 38 Studios deal, and movie tax credits -- all taxpayer sponsored programs. His success in part was fueled by his close relationship with Gordon Fox, the former Speaker of the House and now an inmate in federal prison. While Corso made millions on historic tax credits and was paid hundreds of thousands by 38 Studios for activities related to securing the $75 million in loan guarantees, Corso had tapped the Rhode Island state coffers for millions more in movie tax credits.

TODAY: He is presently active in brokering historic and film tax credits. 

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Peter Kilmartin

Former State Rep

The now-Rhode Island Attorney General voted for the $75 million "job guarantee program" -- which as is now known turned out to be earmarked for 38 Studios -- while a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 2010, where he had served since 1990.

TODAY: Kilmartin has served as RI Attorney General since January 2011.  As GoLocal reported in September, The Office of Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin continues to remain silent three years later on the ongoing 38 Studios lawsuit, as well as State Police investigation -- and others --  and some are questioning the role the AG has played to date, and can play moving forward

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Amy Kempe

Former Governor's Spokesperson

Kempe was spokesperson for then-Governor Donald Carcieri when the 38 Studios deal was ushered through in 2010.  In the recently released lawsuit documents, Kempe was discovered to have sent an email to EDC staff urging them to publicly support the deal, closing with "In Schilling We Trust!" 

TODAY: Kempe serves at AG Kilmartin's spokeperson.  During the 2014 Attorney General race, Kilmartin opponent Dawson Hodgson called for both the AG and Kempe to "step aside" in 38 Studios matters due to their previous roles. 

Photo courtesy of RI Governor's Office, 2008

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Nicholas Mattiello

Former Majority Leader

Mattiello was part of the House Democratic leadership team as Majority Leader in 2010 when he voted for 38 Studios. He rose to the state's most powerful political position in 2014 after his predecessor Gordon Fox resigned -- before Fox pled guilty in federal court a year later to three counts of wire fraud, bribery, and filing a false tax return.  During the 2014 General Assembly session, Mattiello firmly supported the state paying $12.3 million bond payment in the face of strong opposition by some.  

TODAY: The Speaker, who was "pleased" to see the court documents released in September, is facing calls by groups to allow the Oversight Committee conduct an investigation with subpoena powers.

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Frank Caprio

Former General Treasurer

Caprio was General Treasurer in 2010 when the 38 Studios deal went through. "The bond buyers cannot say they were not warned. Caprio... intervened in the bond sale by warning potential bond buyers that this was a risky investment—a move made primarily to stall the deal so cooler heads would prevail and we wouldn't wind up where we are now," wrote GoLocal's Russ Moore in 2013.  

TODAY: Recently released lawsuit documents show that 38 Studios' Zaccagnino alleged that Caprio helped broker a deal to get Barclays a piece of the action to underwrite the bonds. Caprio returned to the private sector after unsuccessful runs for Governor in 2010 and General Treasurer in 2014. 

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Steven Costantino

Former House Finance Chair

Costantino, who was the powerful chair of the House Finance Committee in 2010, may have left the state for "greener pastures" in Vermont where he is Health Access Commissioner, but 38 Studios has continued to follow him up there.  

TODAY: He serves as the Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access under Governor under Governor Peter Shumlin.

Once state lawsuit documents were released by the order of Judge Silverstein, even the Vermont press latched on.  “I did not play any role in bringing (38 Studios) to Rhode Island as did others in government. I was tasked to handle the legislation affecting the company by my superiors. After that legislative activity, I had nothing to do with approving the loan to the company and have had nothing to do with the company ever since. I want to make it very clear that the legislation granted authority (to create the fund) only,” Costantino told VT Digger

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Lincoln Chafee

Former Governor 

Chafee opposed the funding of 38 Studios as a candidate for Governor in 2010, which he won. As Governor, he had to clean up the financial mess created by the failure of the gaming company studio created by former Boston Red Sox great Curt Schilling. Questions have been raised about Chafee's stewardship of EDC while 38 Studios was operational and spending $75 million of taxpayers funds. 

TODAY: Chafee remains in race for U.S. President as a Democrat, as of October 2015.

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Keith Stokes

Former EDC Executive Director

Stokes, the former EDC Director at the helm when the 38 Studios deal went through, was ousted in May 2012 as 38 Studios was on the verge of bankruptcy. Stokes had previously been the head of the Newport Chamber of Commerce.

TODAY: Stokes was part of the most recent settlement with the state, when the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation announced in August that it reached a $12.5 million settlement with defendants Adler, Pollack & Sheehan P.C., Robert Stoltzman, J. Michael Saul - and Stokes --  in the 38 Studios litigation.  Stokes currently serves as President of Economic Development and Planning at the Providence-based Mayforth Group. 

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Melissa Czerwein

Former EDC Communications Director

Melissa Czerwein was Melissa Chambers at the time of the 38 Studios deal.  Czerwein's role came under scrutiny when it was revealed in the recently released deposition documents that EDC's Stokes knew the Providence Journal's Cynthia Needham had information on 38 Studios prior to a critical meeting in March 2010.  According to a former high level RIEDC official, Czerwein was asked and called Needham to hold the story. In an interview with GoLocal, she said she could not remember if she had made a call.

TODAY: Czerwein is the Communications Director for the Commerce Corporation

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J. Michael Saul

Former Deputy EDC Director

Saul, who was Deputy Director of the EDC when 38 Studios went through in 2010, was part of the recent $12.5 million settlement between multiple parties and the state.  Saul had been an executive at Bank of Boston for twelve years before landing at the EDC.

TODAY: Saul now lists being at Triple3 Associates LLC as his current position on LinkedIn, listing his experience as "seasoned business owner, bank lending/credit executive and consultant. Demonstrated success in multiple ventures and positions in banking, business ownership, consulting and economic development."

Photo courtesy of today.brown.edu

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Maureen Gurghigian

Financial Advisor

The Senior Vice President for First Southwest, who was the state's financial advisor on the 38 Studios deal, tried unsuccessfully to limit the amount of questioning by the state during deposition.

TODAY: First Southwest most recently came under fire for being retained by the state as the Raimondo Administration utilized their services for review of the truck tolling proposal still under consideration.  General Treasurer Seth Magaziner has put the state advisor position out for bid.

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Adler Pollock & Sheehan

Legal Advisor

EDC legal advisor Rob Stolzman and Adler, Pollock, and Sheehan were defendants in the state's 38 Studios lawsuit.  Stolzman was recently selected to the 2016 edition of "Best Lawyers in America."

TODAY: In December 2014, the Commerce Corporation, after considering the extent of the defendants’ insurance coverage, made a demand of four defendants that they settle for $12.5 million -- Adler, Pollock & Sheehan P.C., Robert I. Stoltzman, J. Michael Saul, and Keith W. Stokes.  In August 2015 the settlement was reached. 

"The 38 Studios settlement approved today by the Commerce Corporation Board ends several years of extremely costly, time-consuming and distracting litigation.  Adler Pollock & Sheehan and the Plaintiff will never agree on issues of responsibility, liability and damages; but they do agree that it is in the best interests of all concerned to put this matter behind them so that this dispute will finally end," said Adler, Pollock and Sheehan in a prepared statement. 

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Moses Afonso Ryan

38 Studios Bond Counsel

The law firm of Moses, Afonso, and Ryan was bond counsel for the 38 Studios deal, and a defendant in the state's lawsuit. The firm, which was founded in 1991, has been involved in such deals as Providence Place Mall, McCoy Stadium, T.F. Green Airport, the Providence Convention Center, Hotel Providence and the Dunkin Donuts Center.

TODAY: The firm and one of its principals -- Anthony Afonso -- were the first defendants to settle with the state for $4.37 million in June 2014. 

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Curt Schilling

38 Studios Founder

The former Red Sox pitcher who created the ill-fated video game company 38 Studios, is one of the remaining defendants in the state's lawsuit - and has not been deposed in the state's lawsuit. 

TODAY:  Schilling was suspended by ESPN in August and taken off their Little League World Series coverage for a tweet in which he compared Muslims to Nazis.

At the end September, Schilling told reporters during a NASCAR event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that he would be returning to ESPN for the Major League Baseball playoffs. 

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Thomas Zaccagnino

38 Studios Board Member

Almost a full year before the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation approved the $75 million in funding for 38 Studios, Tom Zaccagnino, a Massachusetts financier, and ultimate Rhode Island insider Mike Corso were meeting and working on a deal to bring 38 Studios to Rhode Island.

TODAY: He's currently listed as being in"investment management" in the Greater Boston area on Linkedin; Bloomberg lists him as Co-Managing Director at Wellesley Advisors Corporation.

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Jennifer MacLean

CEO of 38 Studios

MacLean was the CEO of 38 Studios, and is a defendant in the state's lawsuit.  MacLean had been a member of the Board of the International Game Developers Association, with prior gaming management experience at Comcast and AOL. 

TODAY: The former CEO of 38 Studios currently is currently the Senior Director of Client Relations for EdAssist's "industry-leading software platforms, advisory services, and education network help employers transform learning and development programs and tuition reimbursement benefits into strategic tools that drive better business results."

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Timothy Babineau

CEO of Lifespan

Appointed to the RIEDC Board by Carcieri and voted for the $75 million loan guarentee for 38 Studios.

Babineau worked for Lifespan and then left the healthcare organization in Maryland, but was recruited back to run RI Hospital and then was promoted to CEO of Lifespan.

TODAY: He oversees the 13,000 employees and a budget of nearly $2 billion. He serves on the UMass and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Boards.

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Paul Choquette

Vice Chair of the Board of Gilbane

Choquette was appointed to the RIEDC by Governor Carcieri and voted for the $75 million loan guarantee for 38 Studios.

A star football player at Brown who served as legal counsel to Governor John Chafee in the early 1960’s, Choquette has been in leadership positions at Gilbane for decades, and is one of six members of the Gilbane family to lead the company since its founding in 1873.

TODAY: He is one of the leaders Gilbane driving the company to be one of the largest and most influential building companies and development companies in the United States.

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Donna Cupelo

Vice President of State Government Affairs in New England, Verizon

She was appointed by the RIEDC Board by Governor Carcieri and voted in favor of the $75 million loan guarantee program for 38 Studios.

Cupelo has been the head of Verizon for New England for decades and has worked the the company for more than three decades. 

TODAY: She continues to lead Verizon in New England and much of her responsibilities are in Boston. She is on the Executive Boards of the MA Private Industry Council and Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. 

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David Dooley

President of URI

He was appointed by Governor Carcieri to the EDC Board, but was absent for 2 of the 3 meetings where 38 Studios was discussed and was also absent for the vote to approve the transaction.

Dooley came to URI from Montana State University where he was the Provost.  At URI, he has helped to grow the BIO-Tech programs, improve the school’s infrastructure and helped to chart a course for the new nursing school in Providence.

TODAY: Dooley is considered a stabilizing force to the University and has become a major influencer in RI’s higher education strategy.

Editor's note:  A previous version had that Dooley voted to approve the $75 million for 38 Studios.  

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Helena Foulkes

Executive Vice President CVS Health

Foulkes was appointed to the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation by Governor Carcieri and voted for the funding of $75 million for 38 Studios.

TODAY: She was ranked this year as the 14th most powerful woman in business by Fortune magazine, and got tremendous credit for the decision to demove tobacco from CVS stores.

Foulkes has responsibility for all aspects of the company’s retail business including its more than 7,800 retail stores, 18 distribution centers and e-commerce sites, as well as merchandising, supply chain, marketing, real estate, front store and pharmacy operations. In addition, Foulkes manages the Company’s enterprise digital, brand and communications teams.”

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George Nee

President of the RI AFL-CIO

Nee was appointed to the RIEDC Board by Carcieri and voted in favor of the $75 million loan guarentee for 38 Studios.

Nee has been one of the most powerful members of organized labor in Rhode Island for decades.  He has been a leading lobbyist at the State House and an influential force in Democratic politics.

TODAY: He continues to serve of the economic development board (RIEDC was re-organized and rebranded the Commerce Corporation). Nee is the leading voice in RI’s very strong labor movement.

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Lynn Singleton

President of Providence Performing Arts Center

Singleton voted for the $75 million in funding for 38 Studios. He was appointed to the RIEDC Board by Carcieri.

He has been a powerful force in the non-profit and tourism industry for decades and is credited with helping to save PPAC and turning it into a leading performance art center.

TODAY: He over sees the operation of the $25 million non-profit and also heads Professional Facilities Management, Inc., PFM, LLC, and Professional Facilities Operations, LLC, all state-registered businesses headquartered at PPAC’s office on 220 Weybosset Street in downtown Providence.

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Cheryl Snead

CEO of Banneker Industries

Snead was appointed to the RIEDC Board by Governor Carcieri and she voted in favor of the $75 million load guarantee for 38 Studios.

In the 1990’s Snead was a key leader of Peerless Precision and served on the Boards of BankRI, Bryant University and the RI Commodores. She emerged as a leader in the business community at the turn of the millennium, and was responsible for founding and growing the supply-side management company Banneker Industries.

TODAY: Snead is widely respected as an entrepreneur and is recognized as one of the top business leaders in RI.

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Shivan Subramaniam

Chairman FM Global

Subramaniam was appointed to the RIEDC Board by Carcieri and voted for the $75 million loan guarantee for 38 Studios.

He is widely recognized for the growth of FM Global over a 15 year period while he served as President and CEO of the company. He has served on the Board of Lifespan, RIPEC, and Bryant University (with Snead). After 15 years he gave up his CEO position.

TODAY: He serves as the Chairman of FM Global today he continues to serve on the Boards of Lifespan and Bryant as well as the Board of Citizens Financial.

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Daniel Sullivan

CEO Collette Tours

Sullivan was appointed by Governor Carcieri and voted in favor of the $75 million loan guarantee for 38 Studios.

He has been active on community boards including committees for Providence College, Bristol County Savings Bank and the Pawtucket Foundation.

TODAY: President and CEO of Collette and has over 35 years in the travel industry —working his entire career at the tour company. Under Sullivan’s leadership the company has transformed from a region company to one of the largest and most respected tour companies worldwide.

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Al Verrecchia

Former CEO and Chairman of Hasbro

Verrecchia was appointed to the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation by Governor Carcieri and he voted for the funding of 38 Studios.

Verrecchia was a driving force in the growth of Hasbro — helping to lead the Pawtucket-based company into becoming the 2nd largest toy company is the US. He served on many of the leading boards in RI. A GoLocal report raised questions about his vote on the 38 Studios funding when he was at the time the Chair of the Board of Hasbro and the company had a major agreement with Electronic Arts (EA) — at the time, EA also had invested $50 million into 38 Studios.

TODAY: Verrecchia is retired from Hasbro and serves on a number of business and community non-profit boards. 

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Karl Wadensten

CEO of VIBCO Vibrators 

He was appointed by Carcieri and was the only member of the RIEDC Board to vote against the funding for 38 Studios.

Wadensten is self-described as an Operational Excellence coach, change agent and thought leader.

Under his leadership, VIBCO has won numerous awards, including the Progressive Manufacturing PM100 Award.

TODAY: Wadensten is chair of the “Making It Easier to Do Business in Rhode Island” subcommittee of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Board. He is one of two who continue to serve on the Board (with Nee).

 
 

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