State House Report: Death Penalty, Chafee’s Son & 38 Studios
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Since the General Assemble wrapped its annual session last week, GoLocal will be recapping the top five news topics of the week. This week’s diverse group of stories includes everything from a stinky landfill to a death penalty case. Not to mention an alleged case of underage drinking at the Governor’s house and the downfall of 38 Studios.
Feds will seek death penalty in Jason Pleau case
This past week, the ongoing Jason Pleau custody battle took yet another turn. On Monday, federal prosecutors declared their desire to seek the death penalty in the Pleau case. Governor Lincoln Chafee, a strong opponent of capital punishment, has been embroiled in a legal tug-of-war with the feds over Pleau’s custody since June 2011.
Initially, the custody of Pleau was granted to Rhode Island, but federal prosecutors were later given custody after an appeal was made to the First District Court of Appeals in Boston. Although Chafee refused to hand Pleau over, the state was forced to concede in late May due to the court’s decision.
Pleau, 34, is accused of fatally shooting 49-year-old gas station manager David Main as he was on his way to a Woonsocket bank on Sept. 20, 2010 to make a deposit. A masked Pleau reportedly made off with a deposit bag containing over $12,000 after shooting Main multiple times, according to prosecutors. Aside from the 2010 incident, Pleau was a lengthy criminal record, including a series of robberies in 1996, which he served 12 years in prison for. Feds cite Pleau’s low rehabilitative potential and likelihood to reoffend as just cause for seeking the death penalty.
The governor has stated that he intends to pursue the case with the United States Supreme Court, calling it a states’ right issue. According to Chafee, capital punishment should not apply to Pleau because the event occurred in Rhode Island, a state that has abolished the death penalty.
Rhode Island’s last hanging took place on February 14, 1845. Chafee posthumously pardoned John Gordon, the deceased, in 2011.
Curt Schilling speaks out about the 38 Studios debacle
Rhode Islanders clamoring for Curt Schilling to finally speak about the failure of 38 Studios were at least moderately satisfied on Friday morning, as the former Red Sox ace told his side of the story on The Dennis & Callahan Show. Schilling spoke at length, an hour and half to be exact, about the contributing factors to the demise of 38 Studios and his personal role in the ongoing mess.
Schilling admitted his fault numerous time throughout the interview stating that he and his team “made a lot of mistakes,” but also threw some blame in Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s direction. Schilling argues that Chafee, who was against the $75 million in loan guarantees granted to 38 Studios, wanted the company to fail. Schilling contends that it was Chafee’s public questioning of the video game company that contributed to its downfall. When asked if he believed Chafee was saddened by the demise of 38 Studios Schilling said, “No, not at all. I think he had an agenda and executed it.” Interestingly, Schilling went on to say that he had an investor ready to provide a $20 million loan to the company during its final days, but Chafee declined to cooperate.
According to Schilling, he personally invested “just north of $50 million” of his own money in the project and lost it all. In fact, the three-time World Series champ claims that the majority of the money he earned during his 20-year career is all but gone.
Originally known as Green Monster Games, 38 Studios was founded by Schilling in 2006. The studio released one game during its existence: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The single-player action role-playing game has sold 1.3 million copies since it was released in February 2012.
Gov. Chafee in hot water over alleged underage drinking party at residence
Aside from being at least partially blamed for the failure of 38 Studios this week, Gov. Chafee also faced numerous questions regarding an underage drinking party at his Exeter home on May 28. The recent graduation party was hosted by Chafee’s 18-year-old son Caleb and was reportedly attended by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s 19-year-old son Alexander. Police indicate that an 18-year-old female became ill at the party and was later treated at Kent Hospital for alcohol poisoning. The Attorney General’s office is currently debating pressing charges against the Governor.
Caleb declined to speak to investigator on the day of the party, according to police reports. No stranger to breaking underage drinking laws, Caleb plead no contest last month to trying to buy beer at a Jamestown liquor store in April. The charge was expunged from Caleb’s record after he paid a $100 fine.
While some fathers may have some harsh words for the child, Gov. Chafee has opted to commend his son. According to Chafee, the party was just “youngsters letting off steam.”
Providence program to combat gun violence
David Hollis, 38-year-old man is currently in critical condition after being shot in the head on Thursday afternoon in Providence’s Wanskuck neighborhood. The shooting is yet another example of the increase in gun violence occurring in the state’s capital this year. The crime occurred at Douglas Avenue and Veazie Street, a recent hotbed for gun violence. Police indicate that the Wanskuck neighborhood has had the most 911 calls for shots fired this year. There is currently no information regarding what led up to the shooting.
Ironically, the event occurred just 24 hours after Providence Mayor Angel Taveras announced a new tip line to counter gun violence. The program is the brainchild of Taveras, along with Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré and Police Chief Hugh Clements. Citizens can call the tip line at (855) 776-7100 or text PPDTIP to CRIMES (274637). Rewards are offered up to $1,000 for tips resulting in the seizure of illegal guns.
Update on the unpleasant odors at the Johnston landfill
Although some Rhode Islanders may be enjoying the warm weather, Johnston residents are not celebrating the smell it is creating at the town’s landfill. While the landfill’s typical stench is far from tolerable, the new summer smell is unbearable. Aside from local residents, the odor, which can best be described as rotten egg-esque, has caught the attention of Johnston State Rep. Stephen Ucci.
Back in March, Ucci introduced a bill that requires the Rhode Island Recovery Corporation to establish an off-site air quality monitoring system for the landfill. The legislation was OKd by the General Assembly last month and was just signed into law on Thursday by the Governor.
Ucci also called for the resignation of the executive director of the R.I. RRC, which runs the landfill in December 2011. "I don't want to legislate how they operate the landfill, but unless they fix it, that's exactly what we're going to do," said Ucci to ABC6 News on Thursday. According to Ucci, he will continue to fight as long as the landfill refuses to clean up its act and of course, its smell.