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Leonardo Angiulo: A Good Day for FBI, A Bad Day for Politicians

Monday, March 31, 2014

 

These three cases involving local politicians raises some big questions about the health and sovereignty of our local, state and Federal Governments, believes Leonardo Angiulo.

If you've been following the national news over the past 2 weeks, you probably noticed that the FBI has been on a roll. At least three politicians across the country have been targeted by a series of FBI raids, arrests and indictments. It's fair to say the number of cases involving public offices all making news at the same time seems unparalleled.

The three cases involve local politicians in North Carolina, California, and Rhode Island. Each one made national news for a minute, but considering the significance of federal agents raiding statehouses and legislators allegedly trafficking firearms, a more involved review may be warranted. To be certain, none of the parties involved have been convicted so any accounts in the public realm at this point are mere accusations. That being said, they are some pretty heavy allegations.

Similar cases making headlines

Take State Senator Leland Lin Yee of California for example. According to a press release issued by the San Francisco FBI office on March 26, 2014 that gentleman is accused of conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms as well as involvement in a scheme to defraud citizens of honest services. According to the same FBI press release, some of the allegations in that case include Senator Yee offering to make phone calls and write a letter of support for an undercover officer's state contract bid in exchange for campaign donations.

Similarly, the case of Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Patrick DeAngelo Cannon involves allegations of theft and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, honest services wire fraud, and extortion under color of official right. According to the March 26, 2014 press release of the FBI's Charlotte Division that city's mayor is accused of an American Hustle-ish set of circumstances. Namely, the mayor allegedly accepted cash and other things of value and, in return, used his official position to benefit a commercial developer to do business in Charlotte. The developer, however, turned out to be an undercover federal agent.

Interestingly, federal agents and state police also stormed the Rhode Island State House on Friday March 21, 2014 and, according to GoLocal reports, seized records after entering the office of the speaker of the state house of representatives. When asked, the Federal Prosecutors' limited explanation for their actions include the service of federal search warrants. As of the time of this writing, neither the United States Attorney's Office for Rhode Island nor the Boston office of the FBI had issued any press releases on the topic.

Honest services fraud

Honest services violations under Federal Law are specifically implicated in two of the three circumstances discussed above and the press release about Senator Yee cites two specific statutes in alleging “Scheme to Defraud Citizens of Honest Services.” The first is 18 USC §1343 and the language of that code section criminalizes the transmission of any interstate or foreign communication to execute a “scheme or artifice to defraud.” The second statute is http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title18/pdf/USCODE-2010-title18-partI-chap63-sec1346.pdf " target="_blank">18 USC §1346 that defines “scheme or artifice to defraud” as any “scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.” One logical interpretation of these statutes is that using the powers of a public office to secure personal financial benefit, through actions like kickbacks or bribes, is criminalized by these laws.

The scope of this honest services fraud statute, along with other issues, was tested in 2010 by the U.S. Supreme Court case of Skilling v. United States. In that case, the “honest services” language had been used to prosecute Mr. Jeffrey Skilling for his involvement in the failure of the Enron Corporation. Specifically, as quoted on page 3 of that case, the indictment contended Mr. Skilling and his co-conspirators “enriched themselves . . . through salary, bonuses . . . other profits, and prestige” while making false public statements about the vitality of the corporation resulting in shareholders and members of the public from being denied honest services. To roughly break that down, they charged him with puffing up the value of corporate stock and pocketing the benefit.

When the Supreme Court reviewed the case, they declined to extend the statute to cover the described behavior. In doing so, the Supreme Court also gave an interesting explanation for how the statute came to be including an examination of mail fraud during the 1800's. In the end, the Court chose to focus the term “honest services” to mean at least those circumstances involving bribery and kickback schemes. Since Mr. Skilling was not alleged to have accepted or solicited side payments in exchange for making misrepresentations the court decided he did not commit honest services fraud. In short, it's not the lie or the fraud that is the problem. It's the making money on the side that does it.

Returning to the recent national events, the broad scope of action focused on elected officials within a short period of time raises some big picture questions about the health and sovereignty of our local, state and Federal Governments. I'll leave that for someone else to answer. For the purposes of this column, the limited question of what may have prompted federal action in North Carolina and California is answered with an evaluation of relevant statutes and precedent. What happened in Providence, on the other hand, is yet to be seen.

 

Leonardo Angiulo is an Attorney with the firm of Glickman, Sugarman, Kneeland & Gribouski in Worcester handling legal matters across the Commonwealth. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

 

Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s History of Political Corruption

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Buddy Cianci

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. 

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Joseph Bevilacqua

Joseph Bevilacqua was RI Speaker of the House from 1969 to 1975, and was appointed as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court in 1976.  It was alleged that Bevilacqua had connections to organized crime throughout his political career.  

According to a 1989 article that appeared in The New York Times at the time of his death:

The series of events that finally brought Mr. Bevilacqua down began at the end of 1984... stating that reporters and state police officers had observed Mr. Bevilacqua repeatedly visiting the homes of underworld figures.

The state police alleged that Mr. Bevilacqua had also visited a Smithfield motel, owned by men linked to gambling and drugs...

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Thomas Fay

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. 

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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.

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Edward DiPrete

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.

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Plunder Dome

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. 

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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. 

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Charles Moreau

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.

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Gordon Fox

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. 

The details are still emerging, but the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Rhode Island has confirmed the IRS is involved in an ongoing investigation in Rhode Island.

 
 

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Comments:

The gun-control ghouls are laying low after the arrest of their poster boy, Leland Yee. California State Senator Yee has been one of those 'staunch advocates of gun control' so beloved of the left and the many it fools.

Yee wrote many of this year's anti-gun bills which all but outlawed possession of firearms in California. He's the hero of the Sandy Hook crusaders, the Sarah Brady Bunch, and other gun-grab cabals.

Why are so many gun owners smiling over the arrest and exposure of Yee, and the tiresome refusal of the marxstream meadia to fully describe his alledged crimes? Because the good gun-control senator is apparently a gun runner.

That's right: Yee is charged with serious firearms and other weapons violations. He's accused of working with Russian MOBsters and Phillipine jihado-marxist rats to traffic not only in full auto firearms commonly called 'machine guns' but as well, grenade launchers.

And it gets better. This 'guns for me but not for thee' typical gun-control fake, phoney, fraud also is accused of trafficking in shoulder fired missiles. You know, those handy little gadgets which you can use to shoot down passing jet aircraft. Those shoulder fired missiles.


But not to worry. The Sandy Hook crowd, the I Hate Guns ghouls, the whole pile of lefties just love Senator Yee, their poster boy for gun-control, who it turns out is one of the biggest gun-runners going.

It gets better. Yee is goombahs with Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow. Look him up. He's all over the Net. Like dog-doot.

Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, good friend of and accomplice with anti-gun activist Senator Yee, has a long and stellar career in the Tongs, the Chinese mafia. Chow was involved in the 1977 San Fransicko shootup of a restaurant which left several dead and likely inspired the scene in the great 1984 noir, "Year of the Dragon" which starred Mickey Rourke.

You name it, Chow does it: kidnapping, killing, extortion, robbery, etc.; a guy with a diverse and most inclusive resume. He's good pals with and an accomplice of Yee, Mr. Gun Control.


Many who previously could not understand why gun-owners and Second Amendment supporters would become so impassioned whenever some pious gasbag would gass off about the need to ban guns, now understand it fully:

The people behind the gun control movement are themselves gun runners and terrorists who are trying to disarm Americans so they can more easily subjugate and kill them.

Any questions? You doubt this? Give Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow a call. He's covering for the Senator, who at the moment is a guest of the feds.

The more loudly and piously they scold we citizens, the more they guilt trip us and try to herd us into their little collectivist boxcars, the dirtier they are.

And the dirt in this San Fransicko/Yee/Chow case hasn't even begun to bust forth. The gun control movement is up to its brown eyeballs in gun running. Mark these words well. Laugh now. You'll soon enough won't be.

Never, ever trust a gun-controller. Ever.

Comment #1 by paul zecchino on 2014 04 01

Couldn't be said better Paul-our pal sammy from Arizona is a little quiet isn't he?
I also think maybe the changes at the statehouse will dampen the ardor of our local gun control fanatics-like the carpetbagger Brett Smiley.
I'm really hoping that scurrilous rat David Cicilline gets tangled up in this Fox business.

Comment #2 by Joseph Bernstein on 2014 04 02




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