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NEW: Rep. Morgan Calls on AG Kilmartin to Investigate Coventry Fire District Meeting

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

 

Rhode Island State Representative Patricia Morgan (R-Coventry, West Warwick, Warwick), has called on Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to investigate actions taken over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend by the Board of the Coventry Fire District.

In a release sent by the House Minority Leader's Office, the Board is "alleged to have violated the state’s Open Meetings Act by amending the notice of meeting after the fact, and by discussing matters in executive session which by law are to be dealt with in public session."

Morgan requested the investigation today in a letter to the AG’s office, and said both actions had the same intent: to mislead the public about the nature of the meeting and the matters discussed.

“The Board’s explanation for this ‘emergency’ meeting is not at all credible. What are they hiding?” Morgan asked.

Morgan Details Meeting

Morgan said the inquiry comes as a result of an early-morning meeting on Thanksgiving Saturday, which was originally posted on the Secretary of State’s website on Wednesday, Nov. 26 as an emergency meeting to discuss a personnel matter. 

Morgan stated that when "outsiders" arrived, they were told to wait outside the building because the Board was in executive session. The meeting, which was to have lasted one hour, last 3 1/2 hours, and when the Board reconvened, it took up on two items related to tax collections, but Morgan said "neither item was advertised nor could be considered an emergency".

Rep. Patricia Morgan

Morgan said she suspected the meeting was called to discuss Coventry Fire District Chief Paul Labaddia, who was filmed playing golf "when he was supposed to be working, drinking in local bar during normal working hours, and smoking what appeared to be marijuana after retrieving it from his fire district vehicle". The Board has hired attorney William Harsch to investigate the charges, but he has yet to formally issue his report.

“The public cannot know what was discussed in executive session, but one member said the reason for the meeting was to discuss ‘financial planning.’ There are two problems with this. First, such a discussion is clearly not an emergency. And second, it would have been illegal for the Board to have this discussion in executive session under the Open Meetings Act,” said Morgan.

 “The Open Meetings Act was not enacted for frivolous purposes," Morgan continued.  "The public has a right to accurate information beforehand to know what the Board is planning to deal with, and elected officials have a responsibility to fully disclose."

 

Related Slideshow: Rhode Island Biggest Political Scandals

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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. 

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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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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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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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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. 

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John Celona

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.

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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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38 Studios

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.

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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.

Following the raid, Fox resigned as Speaker of the House. Days after the resignation from Fox, Nicholas Mattiello was chosen to replace him.

 
 

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