EXCLUSIVE: Head of RI Trucking Association Arrested for Obscene Calls to Officials
Sunday, August 02, 2015
Wright, a former Smithfield Zoning Board member, pled no contest on July 23 to the misdemeanor charges following the June 26 incident where he placed several calls to the Smithfield Town Council President Bernard Hawkins and Smithfield Town Council Vice President Suzy Alba while drinking with other Smithfield elected officials, allegedly referring to her a c-nt, according to police records.
Wright received a one year filing, $100 donation to VCIF, court costs, and to have no contact with Alba or Hawkins.
"I not only question the judgment, character and integrity of the caller Stephen Wright, but I am also deeply troubled and concerned that chairman of our zoning board Tony Fonseca allowed this type of behavior and crime to take place in his home, and that all who were present and witnessed these harassing calls being made repeatedly, to many people over several hours, did nothing to stop them and could be heard laughing in the background," said Alba. "It is very unfortunate that I now have lost my confidence and trust in their leadership and their ability to serve admirably and respectfully"
"I ask everyone involved, who happen to all be men, "How would you feel if your wife, mother, sister or daughter received the type of calls that I did, at that time of night, using that type of language?" asked Alba.
According to the police reports, the incident took place on June 26 at Chairman of the Smithfield Zoning Board Antonio Fonseca's house, at a gathering that included former zoning board member George McKinnon, Smithfield school committee chair Sean Clough, and Town Council member Greg Tocco.
Alba was called twice -- following the call where she heard the c-nt reference, she let the next one go to voicemail. Hawkins was reportedly called four times between 9 P.M. and 1 A.M.
"I didn't recognize the number, but the second message was from Steve and he addressed me as "Dick," said Hawkins in his witness statement, saying Wright kept inviting him to go to [a] party. "I have no social interaction with Foncesca, McKinnon, and Wright."
"He resigned from the Smithfield Zoning Board a few days after, but I understand he's the incoming chair of the Trucker's Association," said Hawkins of Wright -- and the calls. "There's politics to play, I imagine it's over zoning appointments. They're probably upset a couple of members didn't have votes to get reappointed."
Hawkins said he thought that Wright "took the rap" for others who were present with him that evening.
"Those [police] reports aren't the exact truth -- there were only two people in the crowd that had my number, so someone gave it to him," said Hawkins. "It's one thing if you're calling, waking up your buddies, but if you're public officials, it's just childish."
Neither Wright nor his lawyer responded to request for comment on Friday.
Chris Maxwell, President of the Rhode Island Trucking Association, said he supports Wright "100%"
"Steve was on my board, he was transparent with me about the incident, will remain on the board, and is my incoming chairman, and will remain my incoming chairman," said Maxwell.
"I can vouch for the character of Steve Wright as a family man, honest man, and this incident was the result was political fodder," said Maxwell. "He was completely transparent with me."
Related Slideshow: Rhode Island Biggest Political Scandals
Buddy Cianci, 1984
Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci resigned as Providence Mayor in 1984 after pleading nolo contendere to charges of assaulting a Bristol man with a lit cigarette, ashtray, and fireplace log. Cianci believed the man to be involved in an affair with his wife.
Cianci did not serve time in prison, but received a 5-year suspended sentence. He was replaced by Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. in a special election.
Brian J. Sarault
Former Pawtucket Mayor Brian J. Sarault was sentenced in 1992 to more than 5 years in prison, after pleading guilty to a charge of racketeering.
Sarault was arrested by state police and FBI agents at Pawtucket City Hall in 1991, who alleged that the mayor had attempted to extort $3,000 from former RI State Rep. Robert Weygand as a kickback from awarding city contracts.
Weygand, after alerting federal authorities to the extortion attempt, wore a concealed recording device to a meeting where he delivered $1,750 to Sarault.
Thomas Fay, the successor to Bevilacqua as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, resigned in 1993, and was later found guilty on three misdemeanor counts of directing arbitration work to a partner in his real estate firm, Lincoln Center Properties.
Fay was also alleged to use court employees, offices, and other resources for the purposes of the real estate firm. Fay, along with court administrator and former Speaker of the House, Matthew "Mattie" Smith were alleged to have used court secretaries to conduct business for Lincoln, for which Fay and Smith were business partners.
Fay was fined $3,000 and placed on one year probation. He could have been sentenced for up to three years in prison.
Edward DiPrete became the first Rhode Island Governor to be serve time in prison after pleading guilty in 1998 to multiple charges of corruption.
He admitted to accepting bribes and extorting money from contractors, and accepted a plea bargain which included a one-year prison sentence.
DiPrete served as Governor from 1985-1991, losing his 1990 re-election campaign to Bruce Sundlun.
Buddy Cianci, 2002
Cianci was forced to resign from the Mayor’s office a second time in 2002 after being convicted on one several charges levied against him in the scandal popularly known as “Operation Plunder Dome.”
The one guilty charge—racketeering conspiracy--led to a five-year sentence in federal prison. Cianci was acquitted on all other charges, which included bribery, extortion, and mail fraud.
While it was alleged that City Hall had been soliciting bribes since Cianci’s 1991 return to office, much of the case revolved around a video showing a Cianci aide, Frank Corrente, accepting a $1,000 bribe from businessman Antonio Freitas. Freitas had also recorded more than 100 conversations with city officials.
Operation Plunder Dome began in 1998, and became public when the FBI executed a search warrant of City Hall in April 1999.
Cianci Aide Frank Corrente, Tax Board Chairman Joseph Pannone, Tax Board Vice Chairman David C. Ead, Deputy tax assessor Rosemary Glancy were among the nine individuals convicted in the scandal.
In 2003 Operation Dollar Bill, a codename for an undercover investigation by the FBI, looked into corruption in the state of Rhode Island. State Senator John Celona was investigated for accepting money and gifts from CVS, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and Roger Williams Hospital.
In 2005, charges were filed against Celona for accepting gifts and money from CVS, Roger Williams and Blue Cross & Blue Shield. These companies all had interest in legislation that Celona was involved in as the Chairman of the Senate Corporation Committee.
Celona did his best to receive a lenient sentece by cooperating with the governemt and proved to be a key witness in the conviction of two former Roger Williams Medical Center Executives. Celona was later sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
N. Providence Councilmen
Three North Providence City Councilmen were convicted in 2011 on charges relating to a scheme to extort bribes in exchange for favorable council votes. In all, the councilmen sought more than $100,000 in bribes.
Councilmen Raimond A. Zambarano, Joseph Burchfield, and Raymond L. Douglas III were sentenced to prison terms of 71 months, 64 months, and 78 months, respectively.
Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau resigned in 2012 before pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.
Moreau admitted that he had give contractor Michael Bouthillette a no-bid contract to board up vacant homes in exchange for having a boiler installed in his home.
He was freed from prison in February 2014, less than one year into a 24 month prison term, after his original sentence was vacated in exchange for a guilty plea on a bribery charge. He was credited with tim served, placed on three years probation, and given 300 hours of community service.
38 Studios was a video game company founded in 2006 by former Major Leaguer Curt Schilling. First based in Massachusetts, the company moved to Rhode Island to secure a $75 Million loan guarantee from the state’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
In 2012, 38 Studios released its first game, “Kingdoms of Amalur”. In May of 2012, 38 Studios missed a payment of $1.125 million to the RIEDC. Later that month 38 studios paid a check for that amount, but it was later returned by the state for inefficient funds. On that same day 38 Studios did not make the payroll for its employees.
At the end of May, 38 Studio laid off all of their employees. In June, 38 Studios filed for bankruptcy. At the same time Federal and State officials begin a probe of the company. That year the state sued 38 Studios as well as Schilling.
In May of 2014, a report came out that the video game company knew that the money they had received was not going to be enough to cover the development of their first project.
The Rhode Island State Police and FBI raided and sealed off the State House office of Speaker of the House Gordon Fox on March 21--marking the first time an office in the building has ever been raided.
Following the raid, Fox resigned as Speaker of the House. Days after the resignation from Fox, Nicholas Mattiello was chosen to replace him.
- GoLocalTV: RI Teamsters, Trucking Association Clash on Truck Tolls for Infrastructure
- NEW: Trucking Association Calls For a Commission to Review Toll Plan
- Trucking Toll Alternative Proposed for RI
- Bishop: Bridges, Tolls and a Tale of Three States
- Lisa Blais: RI’s Budget—State Pension, Tolls + The Big Win
- Governor Proposing Truck Tolls to Fund RI Infrastructure Bank
- NEW: Truck Tolls May Still be in the Budget
- NEW: No Stadium, No Tolls In Rhode Island House Budget
- RI State Report: Green Energy Pledges, Special Elections + Tolls
- State Report: RI’s Massive Surplus, Bridge Tolls & Keith Stokes’ New Gig