Wired: 1997 Through 1998, A Book by Paul Caranci

Monday, April 10, 2017

 

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Each week, GoLocalProv will publish a chapter of the book Wired: The Shocking True Story of Political Corruption and the FBI Informant Who Risked Everything to Expose It, by Paul Caranci. 

The book details how Caranci gambled his thirty-year political career, his reputation, and his family’s safety in his quest to restore good, honest government to a community that needed it most by going undercover with the FBI for 17 months to exposed corruption. 

Buy the book by CLICKING HERE

1997

INAUGURATION DAY II

The Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was the setting for the inaugural Mass in January 2007. Pastor Louis Natalizia offered the sermon in which he described incoming Mayor Mollis as “one of the most level-headed people I have ever known. He’s a good man, he’s an honest man, he’s a just man.” 

From the church the elected officials proceeded to the high school where Mollis, followed by the Council and other elected officials marched into the auditorium proceeded by a Police and Fire Department honor guard. “Today we shoot for the stars,” Mollis beamed during his inaugural address. Reminiscent of excoriations made during President Kennedy’s now famous 1960 inaugural address, Mollis continued, “but I do so with a challenge to each of you to pull together, contribute in a positive way to the community you live in, and together let’s build that foundation to the 21st century.”

I was sworn into my second full term on the Council. Doc Corvese was elected Vice-Chairman of the School Committee (he had been first elected to the School Committee in 1996) and Representative Frank Anzeveno served as the event’s emcee. This inauguration lacked the personal excitement of my first, but it marked the first time that my two best friends were an integral part of the ceremony and only the second time that we all shared the stage together.

“I’ll Take Down the Councilman
Limping the Most”

The New Year didn’t alter the local political atmosphere in town and the controversy began almost immediately. In January there was talk of the Council authorizing a resolution to ask the General Assembly for a 50% salary increase for the new mayor. Fossa and Lombardi wanted the salary to remain as it was realizing that no one of modest means, including Ralph Mollis, could raise a young family on $30,000 a year. “If the Council rejects the increase,” Lombardi pleaded with me privately, “Mollis will never be able to run for re-election. He may not even be able to finish out this term.” Despite his persistence, the Council voted on February 4th to increase the mayor’s salary from $30,000 to $45,000. Former Mayor Fossa, who just month’s earlier had proposed the same increase while he was occupying the mayor’s corner office in Town Hall, threatened the Council with promises to work against each person who voted for the measure. “I’ll lie in wait like a lion in the bush waiting and take down the councilman who is limping the most,” Fossa said at a Council meeting as he promised to personally run against whatever councilman from his district supported the resolution. 

He accused Councilwoman Eileen Cook and me of plotting to trade votes for jobs, a charge that was so ridiculous that it didn’t even deserve a response. While not specific about what jobs I was allegedly bartering my vote for, he did mention that Cook was trying to get her son a job with the Town. Fossa was irate as the Council voted 6-1 to pass the resolution. Councilman Lombardi cast the sole dissenting vote.

The very next morning Fossa openly challenged the reputations of those Council members voting in support of the mayor’s raise. He met with attorneys from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission to discuss filing a complaint against Mollis and members of the Council. Accompanying Fossa to the Ethics Commission was his loyal friend and political shadow, Councilman Charlie Lombardi. With no effort to conceal his indignation and disdain for his colleagues who voted for the increase, Lombardi promised CJ Chivers of the Providence Journal that he would “induce regurgitation and reverse the vote on behalf of the taxpayers.” 

Fossa filed the complaint against Mollis and all six members of the Council that voted to propose the Town charter amendment to the General Assembly allowing for the increase in the mayor’s salary. In so doing he alleged that the six Council members and the mayor violated the town charter, which prohibits the mayor approving a salary increase during an existing term of office. He further accused the defendants of personally benefiting financially from the vote, a condition that would need to be satisfied in order for a violation of the Code of Ethics to exist.

On August 5, 1997, the Ethics Commission announced that it was dismissing the complaints clearing Mollis and the Council members of any wrongdoing. The nine-member Commission reviewed the complaint and declined to launch a full investigation because the complaint failed “to allege facts sufficient to constitute a willful violation of the Code of Ethics.” The five page report said that Fossa and Lombardi provided no evidence that any Council member benefited from their vote or had “a business or other type of relationship” with Mayor Mollis. 

Fossa and Lombardi were unwilling to give up however, threatening to take their case to court. In the end they did give up and must have realized, despite their personal feelings about Mollis and the six Council members, there was absolutely nothing wrong or illegal in their actions. The entire incident appeared to be politically motivated by a former mayor who just couldn’t accept the fact that he had lost the election. 

1998

TAKING ON ADULT ENTERTAINMENT

 

While researching local ordinances during the drafting of the Home-Based Business Ordinance I stumbled upon the realization that the “adult entertainment industry” was largely unregulated in North Providence.

Consequently, in 1997 I introduced an ordinance to the Town Council establishing special zones in which facilities engaged in adult-oriented businesses could operate. I did not introduce the measure because I favored the proliferation of adult entertainment in North Providence, but rather because I feared that the existing language of our Zoning Ordinance would allow for such facilities to be operated in any commercial zone. My research indicated that the existing language of the Ordinance theoretically allowed a facility featuring adult entertainment to be operated next to a school, a church, playground or any other area where children might congregate. 

In a town whose prior political leadership had created an atmosphere conducive to the mixed and spotted zoning that now existed throughout, it was even possible for such a facility to be located within a residential zone. I felt that stricter regulation was needed to preserve and protect the future quality of life for our residents.

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Some on the Council opposed the measure saying that North Providence already had a requirement that no liquor-serving establishment could provide adult entertainment. However, I contended that the existing law did nothing to prevent an establishment such as an X-rated video store or an X-rated bookstore from opening in a residential zone. In fact a new west coast craze was moving east. Cigar-strip clubs were opening in the west and southwest and such facilities served up juice and cigars, but not alcohol. Under current town regulations, such a facility could potentially open next to someone’s home or even a church. I wanted to safeguard North Providence from ever facing such a reality.

The proposed ordinance was sound. I worked with the National Family Legal Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona to ensure that it would withstand constitutional challenge by not banning such facilities outright. Rather, my proposal established special zones in which those facilities could operate. Under the terms of the ordinance, no facility providing adult entertainment (the term was specifically defined) could locate within 500’ of any church, elementary or secondary school, residential district, public park, licensed day-care center, youth organization or establishment or facility where minors congregate. Additionally, the proposal required that a new sexually-oriented business must be at least 1,000 feet from any other sexually oriented business. Other sections of the ordinance established further restrictions such as large buffer zones, limited signage and specific examples of license forfeiture. 

There were at least three areas of town in which such facilities could operate under my proposal satisfying the established legal requirements as determined by various courts of the United States. All three of them were in an area adjacent to the closed municipal landfill on Smithfield Road and were currently occupied by auto salvage yards. 

Because of its unpopularity with some influential councilmembers, my measure languished in the Ordinance Committee for almost a year despite a Town charter provision that requires all ordinances to be voted out within 30 days. The problem, I later learned, had little to do with the substance of the ordinance and a lot to do with local politics. 

Bob Ricci, the new Council president, viewed me as a potential candidate for mayor, a position to which he also aspired. Passage of such a wide-reaching ordinance may result in publicity that might give me an advantage in such a match-up. 

Ricci was a burly man easily weighing in at about 300 pounds. He had a certain charm and charisma as well as a booming voice that he used with authority. Although he had an associate’s degree, his real knowledge of the workings of government came from the wealth of practical and community experience he gained from working in his father’s Italian restaurant, something he did since he was eleven years old. He also married one of the daughters of former councilman and one-time mayoral candidate John Ricci, himself a wealth of political knowledge and counsel. 

Bob Ricci controlled the Council agenda by befriending a majority of the Council people. I later learned from John Zambarano while attending a R.I. League of Cities and Towns Conference in Reno, Nevada, that Ricci made it clear to John that he didn’t want any proposal with my name on it to be approved by the Council. Together they worked toward that objective. I knew that I would need to work around the Council if I hoped for my proposal to see the light of day. At the start of 1998 I began a crusade to force my proposed ordinance out of Committee and to the full Council for a vote. As usual, Bob Cerilli was by my side helping with any task that needed to be done to garner the appropriate community support. 

I began by speaking to the membership of local organizations looking for both a group endorsement and signatures on a petition of support for passage of the measure. I garnered support from the Fraternal Order of Police Associates (FOPA), the Lions Club, many local Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO’s), Citizens for the Protection of Children & Families (CPCF), the Boy’s & Girl’s Club, several church groups, the Right to Life Committee, the Community Police Organizations, and others. I also developed a press strategy that included meetings with local reporters, the submission of editorials, and the promotion of a letter-to-the-editor campaign. On March 26th the editors of the North Providence North Star wrote, “The Council should give the bill careful consideration, and the public should let their representatives know their views. As it stands now, it appears the proposed regulations make good sense.” 

While all this was developing, the neighboring Town of Johnston began to experience a situation that might have been adequately addressed if the ordinance proposed in North Providence had been passed there. Mario’s Showplace, a nude entertainment club was operating in opposition to neighborhood wishes. Since the establishment of the club, the town had been trying to establish a zone for future clubs, but these proposals wouldn’t impact the existing clubs. Nothing could be done regarding Mario’s. Fortunately, Johnston’s problem added a sense of urgency to the passage of my ordinance, a pressure that was previously non-existent. 

At the Town Council meeting held on April 7, 1998, I placed the item on the agenda for discussion hoping to embarrass the Council into allowing a public hearing that I was entitled to under the town charter. I packed the audience with supporters and again outlined the details of the ordinance and the reasons for introducing it. Many of my fellow councilmen were critical of the “way the legislation was presented to the public.”

Leading the call of those critics were Councilmen Bob Ricci and Charlie Lombardi. Ignoring the fact that the proposal was sent to Ordinance Committee a year ago, the two complained that the legislation was made public before the Council had an opportunity to discuss it. Lombardi called it “one of the three insults passed off on me this week,” proclaiming the others to be the number of calls he received inquiring about a letter to the editor that I wrote regarding the issue and the “false notion that there is a potential problem with sexual-oriented businesses coming to North Providence.” For my part I called it “a wonderful example of democracy in progress.” Despite the public excoriation at my expense, each Council member said that they planned to support the ordinance and a public hearing was scheduled for May.

After ignoring me for a year, refusing to hold a hearing on the proposal and pretending to not understand the details of the ordinance, Bob Ricci and his Council supporters actually blamed me for taking my case directly to the people! The apparent disregard for transparency wasn’t lost on the editors of the local newspaper. On April 9th, the North Providence North Star ran an editorial headlined “Councilman Caranci Doesn’t Need Spanking.” The story read in part,

“At this week’s town council meeting some members of the panel seemed out of sorts with Councilman Paul Caranci because they thought he should have given them more advance warning about his proposal to amend North Providence’s ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses… The members of the board who took exception to the fact the amendment became public knowledge too early ought to pipe down. Every time comments like this are uttered it suggests a fear that too many people will know something important too soon. There is no place in democracy for this kind of strangle-hold on information...” The editorial concluded, “The next time out, the members of the Council who objected to Mr. Caranci’s timing should curb their apparent reflexive distaste for disclosing public information without their permission. He doesn’t need it, and he doesn’t deserve to be chastised either.”

On July 7th the Council held a formal public hearing on the ordinance. No one from the public opposed the measure and several people spoke in favor of it. Alice Brady, the founder of CPCF presented the petition bearing the names of 868 people in support of the ordinance. The Act passed the Council on a unanimous vote but not before Councilman Ricci, assured the crowd that there was “no need of panic because the Council has had no inquiries of anyone wanting to come into town.” The Providence Journal reported Mayor Mollis’s comments with these words: “Passage of the ordinance was not a critical need, but he called the effort ‘preventative and progressive action'.” 

Regardless of the political posturing, the location of strip clubs, adult book stores and theaters, nude model studios and escort agencies were now limited to about three out-of-the-way acres of the town’s 5.4 square miles. While the North Providence Council members may not have understood the significance of laying a proper foundation of protection against future problems, other Rhode Island municipal governments did. Several contacted me over the ensuing months asking for a copy of my ordinance so they could draft one of their own. Ironically the City of Cranston was not one of them. Later that city was confronted with a proposal to locate an adult bookstore just 25’ from a popular playground. Despite the wide-ranging outrage of its residents, the City of Cranston was powerless to do anything about it and the whole episode made the North Providence Council appear prescient.

An August 13th Editorial in the North Providence North Star opined,

“As a letter to the editor in this week’s edition of the North Star points out, some recent events in Cranston have made the North Providence Town Council’s recent decision to enact a law placing strict limits on the establishment of sexually-oriented businesses look very good. 

Because Cranston has no such carefully spelled out restrictions regarding the siting of adult businesses a bookstore may move into an area near schools and playgrounds. 

It was concern over just such a possibility, which moved Town Councilman Paul Caranci to propose an ordinance, which would make it nearly impossible for such a scenario to occur here. 

As the letter writer states, the Council and Mr. Caranci and Mayor Mollis are to be applauded for having the foresight to set in place the legal obstacles which will keep residents, particularly those who are parents of young children, from having to deal with the kind of experiences facing the City of Cranston. 

It is not often that life serves up an object lesson so soon and so neatly. At least for a while the lawmakers in North Providence can bask a bit in the knowledge that they took the bull by the horns and turned it aside before it tore up the turnip patch. 

Let’s hope that they have the same sort of results in eliminating the town’s budget deficit over the next few years.”

Fossa Keeps His Promise

1998 was also an election year. True to his word, Fossa secured opposition for several incumbent Council members. In District 2, Fossa and Lombardi friend Jamie C. Ricci opposed incumbent Councilmen John Sisto and Joe Burchfield in the Democrat Primary, a race the incumbents won handily. District 3 would feature a race with incumbents Eileen Cook and John Zambarano easily beating back a challenge from Independent Frank Martinelli. Fossa announced his candidacy as an Independent against Representative District 70 Democrat candidate Gregory Schadone while Independent candidate Lombardi chose to oppose Doc Corvese in a race for District 71 Representative. Fossa and Lombardi each lost these races by wide margins. 

The nastiest race, however, was the District 1 race where another Fossa/Lombardi ally, Anthony Gallone, Jr., challenged Peter Simone and me. In that race, Gallone lobbed some very personal attacks at me. Charges of unethical behavior were tossed in both directions. In the end, all our candidates won by healthy margins. In the District 1 race, Colleague Peter Simone finished first with 2,187 votes besting me by only 39 votes. Gallone ran a distant third with 1,439 votes.

A Pharmacy, Not a Liquor Store

The end of the year found me embroiled in yet another disagreement with my Council colleagues. This time it involved the granting of a Class-A liquor license to a Fruit Hill pharmacy doing business as Delta Drug. Under R.I. General Law one liquor store is allowed per 6,000 people in communities with over 10,000 residents. North Providence had four liquor stores in operation at the time and, with a population exceeding 31,000, was allowed under law to grant one additional license. Class-A licenses are typically reserved for package or liquor stores. I feared that granting one to a pharmacy might have established a new precedent for the state. 

The entire concept began as an innocent attempt to bring the drug store into compliance with a little-known law that requires a pharmacy to possess a Class-E liquor license in order to store more than two gallons of alcohol for use in the production of medicines. Sometime around August, Delta Drug owner S. Gerald “Jay” Marsocci petitioned the Council for such a license. What I didn’t know at the time was that a Class-E license might be upgraded to a Class-A license without that license being counted in the maximum number of Class-A licenses allowed in the town. Councilman Lombardi must have known about this because at the hearing he specifically asked if Marsocci had any intention of asking the Council for an upgrade at a future date. When Marsocci assured the Council that he had no such plans, Lombardi and the rest of the Council voted in favor of granting the Class-E license to Delta Drug. 

Also unbeknownst to me at the time, was that Marsocci was quite friendly with Councilman Bob Ricci. That was revealed to me in November when Mr. Marsocci called and asked if I would stop by the pharmacy after work so he could discuss a plan he had regarding the future of his store. Other than his appearance before the Council a few months earlier, I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet or speak with Mr. Marsocci. He was certainly a gentleman and told me that he wanted to upgrade his license so that he could sell alcohol. He said that he wanted to retire and leave the business to his son, but his son would never be able to compete in an environment where big box pharmacies were squeezing out small independent stores like his. 

Although I sympathized with him I explained that I wouldn’t be able to support his request for an upgrade because I didn’t feel that the town was in need of another liquor store. I noted further that I objected because of his commitment to the Council to forego a request for such an upgrade. I considered the request a violation of the circumstances understood by the Council at the time of his initial approval of the class E license. He told me that he simply wanted to extend to me the same courtesy that he had extended all the other Council members, thus the reason for the meeting. He said he understood my position and told me that he believed he would have the support that he needed to acquire the upgrade. 

In December, Marsocci was back before the Council asking to upgrade his Class-E license to a Class-A license. Similar to the discussion he had with me, he testified that he needed to sell alcohol in order to compete with the larger chain pharmacies like CVS and Walgreen’s, big-box stores that were operating in the town. He pleaded that he was the only independent pharmacy left in town and if he didn’t get the upgrade he would have to close his doors leaving another vacant building in the Fruit Hill area. He brought with him several retired Franciscan nuns from the Fruit Hill Day Care that spoke of the convenience of having a pharmacist who knew them by name and often would allow them to slide on their payment until they could afford their medications. You can’t get that from a chain store, they intoned. They too pleaded with the Council to allow the upgrade. 

I was not convinced by the arguments and didn’t think for one minute that he would close a profitable business because he wasn’t able to operate as a liquor store. I opposed the upgrade noting that Title 3 of R.I. law was very specific in spelling out the declared purpose for establishing new liquor stores. The law reads in part, “…which declared purpose is the promotion of temperance and for the reasonable control of the traffic in alcoholic beverages.” The R.I. Supreme Court further interpreted the law ruling that in order for a town to issue a Class-A liquor license the petitioner must show that “the necessity and convenience of the residents of the town warranted the establishment of another retail liquor outlet under a Class-A license.” I explained to the Council that the petitioner had not met this burden of proof. In addition to the four existing liquor stores physically located within the town borders, twelve other liquor stores ranging in distance from just a few feet beyond the town line to 7/10 of a mile from the town line also serve the town. In essence, nearly every resident can obtain a bottle of liquor by engaging in no more than a five to ten minute walk or a 120-second drive. The issuance of this license could not possibly make the purchase of alcohol more convenient than it already is. Further, I told the Council, I feared that the Class-E to Class-A upgrade could set a dangerous precedent, which will result in the request and subsequent granting of several other Class-E to Class-A upgrades. The result would be a burgeoning of liquor stores throughout the North Providence area. I contended that we needed to develop a vision for the type of community we wanted to become and a town full of liquor stores did not fit into my vision. The Council was unmoved and it seemed that they had already determined their approval of the license before the hearing even began.

Almost immediately, other Council members began accusing me of being anti-business. On December 24th the North Providence North Star published a letter to the editor that I submitted explaining my position and my vote and noting that my concerns were for the quality of life of the residents and were not anti-business in nature. The response from the other Council members was immediate but not anticipated. Five Council members, including Ricci and Zambarano, but excluding Lombardi whose term was ending, published a letter in the December 31st issue of the paper chastising me for my public position of opposition and alleging that my “vision for our town is one of empty buildings and the extinction of the backbone of our country, the independent businessman.” 

The personal attacks throughout their letter raised suspicion in my mind since my letter refrained from a disparaging word regarding their vote and simply attempted to explain why I voted the way I did. I felt that I owed as much to my constituents so they would understand why I was establishing a pattern of being the lone dissenting vote on many issues before the Council. “We hope in the future,” their letter noted, “Councilman Caranci will join with us in helping local businesses succeed, and we would encourage him to join in a constructive debate at council meetings and to avoid attempts at discrediting his colleagues with one-sided newspaper letters.”

The letter concluded that the Council “must decide each issue on its merits and on an individual basis.” 

Their thundering reaction to the defense of my position seemed oddly out of proportion to my letter. It started my wondering if their motivation wasn’t to simply enhance their own position and help friends rather than to support and protect the best interest of the taxpayers. I also started to silently question if there might be some sort of quid-pro-quo at play.

Despite my personal feelings, when a reporter called to ask my reaction to the letter, I told him that I didn’t feel there was a rift in the Council. Nor did I “consider myself a dissident,” I said in response to his questions. Ricci was less forgiving. “We didn’t like the cheap shot he took at us,” he said. The others agreed that I was trying to discredit them. I could not understand how a letter that simply explained why I voted the way I had, and never mentioned any of the other Council members by name or inference, could in any way be viewed as a personal attack - unless, the position they took regarding the granting of the license was not taken with the best interest of the town at heart but rather for some ulterior motive. In that case, a guilty conscience might convince them to read into my letter something that wasn’t there. By now my suspicions were piquing.

In addition to realizing some major legislative initiatives, 1998 turned out to be a long year of bickering with my colleagues. As the year drew to a close I was looking forward to the start of a new year that might include the possibility of developing a better relationship with the other Council members.

 

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Paul F. Caranci is a historian and serves on the board of directors for the RI Heritage Hall of Fame. He is a cofounder of, and consultant to The Municipal Heritage Group and the author of five published books including two produced by The History Press. North Providence: A History & The People Who Shaped It (2012) and The Hanging & Redemption of John Gordon: The True Story of Rhode Island’s Last Execution (2013) that was selected by The Providence Journal as one of the top five non-fiction books of 2013. Paul served for eight years as Rhode Island’s Deputy Secretary of State and for almost seventeen years as a councilman in his hometown of North Providence. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Margie. They have two adult children, Heather and Matthew, and four grandsons, Matthew Jr., Jacob, Vincent and Casey.

 

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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Joe Almeida

State Representative Joseph S. Almeida was arrested and charged on February 10, 2015 for allegedly misappropriating $6,122.03 in campaign contributions for his personal use. Following his arrest, he resigned his position as House Democratic Whip, but remains a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly.

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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. 

Fox pled guilty to 3 criminal counts on March 3, 2015 - accepting a bribe, wire fraud, and filing a false tax return. The plea deal reached with the US Attorney's office calls for 3 years in federal prison, but Fox will be officially sentenced on June 11.

 
 

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