Indicted N. Providence Councilors Gave to Caprio, Lynch

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

 

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The gubernatorial campaigns for Democrats Frank Caprio and Patrick Lynch yesterday said they had received donations from the three North Providence town councilors charged with taking a bribe for their vote in favor of a supermarket development.

But both campaigns say they have now removed the contributions from their coffers.  

The three councilors— Joseph S. Burchfield, Raymond L. Douglas, III and John A. Zambarano—were arrested May 6 on charges of bribery and extortion. They were formally indicted on those charges May 27.

Between 2002 and 2009, all three men donated money to Lynch—either during his run for Attorney General or his current bid for governor, according to his campaign. Lynch received a total of $75 from Zambarano, $200 from Douglas, and $190 from Burchfield.

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The Lynch campaign said the donations were returned immediately “upon learning of the actual indictment.”

“The actions of these individuals are a stain on the reputation of Rhode Island and if we are to escape the image of a corrupt Rhode Island we have to take a stand and reject contributions or help from individuals like these three,”  said Lynch for Governor Campaign Manager Joel Coon.

In a press release yesterday, the Lynch campaign called on Caprio to return any money he had received as well. The release was issued the day after the three men pled not guilty to charges of bribery and extortion.

Frank Caprio did in fact receive $250 from Burchfield, according to campaign spokesman Nick Hemond.

But, Hemond said once Burchfield was arrested, the Caprio campaign put the money into an escrow account, “long before” Lynch returned his contributions. When Burchfield was indicted, the Caprio campaign gave the money to charity, according to Hemond. 

“We didn’t issue a press release. We didn’t beat our own drum,” Hemond said, adding that the Caprio campaign wanted to respect the judicial process. According to the Caprio campaign, a donation was given to a scholarship fund at Central High School.

But that wasn’t enough for the Lynch campaign, which said Caprio must also reject the endorsement of the North Providence Democratic Committee, on which all three men sat.  

“If Frank Caprio is concerned about an open and honest process in our Democratic Party then he should reject the endorsement tainted and corrupted by the efforts of these three people now under indictment or at the very least, call for a re-vote,” Coon said.

Hemond disagreed, noting that the vote for the endorsement was 42 to 0. "Frank will not turn away the support from the grassroots leaders because of the alleged activities of these three men," Hemond said.

 
 

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