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Scammer Gave Over $250k to Top Pols: Will They Return the Cash?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

 

The Cranston man who pleaded guilty this week to conspiring to steal the identities of terminally-ill patients to obtain millions of dollars from insurance companies and bond issuers was a major contributor to elected officials and candidates at both the local and national level. Now some of the state’s most powerful leaders are divided as to whether they’ll return those funds.

State and Federal campaign finance reports dating back to 2000 show Joseph Caramadre and his wife, Paula, contributed over $200,000 to politicians on both sides of the aisle, including former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, Congressman James Langevin, former Governor Don Carcieri and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

The Caramadres also contributed more than $250,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the House and Senate Victory Fund and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee over the past 12 years.

“The donations you are talking about occurred years ago and were used for their intended purpose in good faith with no knowledge of possible wrongdoing,” said Jonathon Dworkin, a spokesman for Langevin, who received over $15,000 from the Caramadres. “The campaign's long-standing policy is to move on and cut any ties with those who might be involved in misconduct.”

Still, at least one other member of the state’s Congressional delegation is expected to donate the funds contributed by the Caramadres to charity. While a spokesperson for newly re-elected Senator Sheldon Whitehouse did not return a request for comment Monday, Whitehouse made that commitment last when GoLocalProv first inquired about the contributions.

“The allegations against Mr. Caramadre are serious, and if he is found guilty Sheldon’s campaign will donate the money to charity,” Whitehouse spokesman Seth Larson said at the time.

Senator Reed’s office did not respond in time for publication.

Identity Theft & Wire Fraud

According to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha, Caramadre and his business partner, Raymour Radhakrishnan, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit identity theft and wire fraud. Last November, the two were charged in a 66-count grand jury indictment.

The elaborate scheme involved locating terminally-ill individuals, including by visiting AIDS patients and finding family members and associates of the terminally-ill, and by soliciting individuals who were terminally ill to purchase small life insurance policies. Caramadre even took out an advertisement in a catholic newspaper stating that he would give $2,000 in cash to terminally-ill people.

Caramadre and Radhakrishnan would then use the names and social security numbers off dying individuals to obtain more than 200 variable annuities and to open more than 75 brokerage accounts in order to purchase “death-put" bonds in the victims’ names without their knowledge. When the person died, the two cashed in.

“Mr. Caramadre has made a decision that acceptance of this plea agreement is in his best interests and the best interests of his family,” Gregg Perry, a spokesman for Caramadre said Monday.

Common Cause Director: Donate the Money

But the majority of the cash donated by the Caramadres remains in question. Common Cause executive director John Marion said he believes the funds should be given to charity.

“Any politician who has received money from someone convicted of fraud should donate those funds to charity,” he said. “Not being a lawyer, I can't say whether or not those monies can be recovered and returned to victims.

Last year, State Rep. Michael Marcello (D-41), who received a $250 contribution from Caramadre, committed to donating the money to charity.

“Mr. Caramadre made a one-time donation to my 2008 campaign for State Representative,” Marcello said. “At the time, he was a resident of western Cranston which is part of District 41. Although my 2008 campaign is long over and he has not made any donations to any subsequent campaigns in any amount, in order to avoid any distractions in my efforts to represent the residents of my District, my campaign will make a donation to a local charity in the same amount of his initial pledge, $250.”

The contributions from the Caramadre family aren’t the only contributions elected officials and candidates have agreed to return in Rhode Island this year. Earlier this year, then-Republican Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty decided to return $1,000 to State Senator Frank Ciccone, who was accused of verbally abusing a police officer following a traffic incident.

Earlier this month, Governor Lincoln Chafee said he would return $2,450 in campaign contributions he received from an attorney and a law firm named in the 38 Studios lawsuit.


 



Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.

 

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Comments:

If politicians are to be asked to return these contributions then I would suggest that any organization that received gift/contributions should do the same. Who is to determine which charity these return contributions are to be given to?

Comment #1 by craig evans on 2012 11 21

I guess $200K won't buy this lawyer a black robe like Jack McConnell.

Comment #2 by Max Diesel on 2012 11 21

Return the contributions to whom...the scammer, the annuity companies, or the people's heirs? If they give the money to charity, the money has still be illegally diverted.

Comment #3 by Charles Beckers on 2012 11 21

"Philanthrophy" is alive and well in the Biggest Little - and elsewhere! How much longer must we wait until we clean house?

Comment #4 by Joe Maguire on 2012 11 21

Crooks donate to crooks. Birds of a feather....

Comment #5 by Mike Govern on 2012 11 21

Thanks, Dan. Good reporting, and please keep exposing corruption.

Comment #6 by Art West on 2012 11 21

This is "dirty money" to the max. Why anyone who received these ill gotten funds would want to be associated with this leech defies description. Common decency would dictate an immediate return of any monies received from this scam artist.
You also have to wonder who solicited Mr. Caramdre to donate large sums on behalf of numerous out-of state politicians (Nevada State Democratic Party)? A tangled web to say the least.

Comment #7 by Harold Stassen on 2012 11 21

one wonders if the Nevada contribution is somehow connected to the Matt Brown affair from a few years back?

Comment #8 by Malachi Constant on 2012 11 21

Jim Langevin received a total of $22000 from the Caramadres as i have pointed out for some time now and its pathetic for Mr Langevin not to disgorge these payments... I suggest a charity at this time of year is appropriate...it is a sad that our congressman needs to be convinced to do the right thing

Comment #9 by michael riley on 2012 11 21

In 2009 and 2010 the FBI was on the case and Mr langevin was still accepting while others were not

Comment #10 by michael riley on 2012 11 21

http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/contributions/joseph-caramadre.asp?cycle=10


2009 no whitehouse, no reed the only pol in RI ....? Langevin

Comment #11 by michael riley on 2012 11 21

the bigegr question is why did he give so much to langevin??

what was he getting in return?

Comment #12 by jon paycheck on 2012 11 21

Bribes are bribes, that's how politics works pure and simple. RI has the best politicians that money can buy.

Comment #13 by Charles Marsh on 2012 11 22




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