News and Press Releases

News Release
U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island

August 19, 2010



PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Five individuals, including three former North Providence town councilmen, were charged Thursday in a twelve count superseding indictment by a federal grand jury with conspiracy, extortion and bribery. The indictment, which details four alleged extortion and bribery schemes, and demands for more than $100,000 in bribes, comes as the result of an ongoing investigation into public corruption in North Providence. The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha.

The first indictment in this matter returned May 27, charged former councilmen Joseph S. Burchfield, Raymond L. Douglas III and John A. Zambarano with extortion and bribery, related to a $25,000 bribe in exchange for a zoning change which would permit the development of a supermarket. The new charges include a conspiracy from October of 2008 through May of 2010 in which the councilmen and others allegedly extorted bribes from several businesses appearing before the town council. 

The conspiracy includes four alleged extorted bribe attempts, including a $25,000 bribe in exchange for the supermarket development zoning change; a $75,000 bribe in exchange for a zoning change which would permit residential development at an old mill in the Lymansville section of North Providence (of which $21,000 in cash was delivered); the attempted extortion of $3,000 from a bar owner seeking a liquor license (the bribe was not paid); and the attempted extortion of $5,000 from a restaurant owner seeking an extended hours permit (the bribe was not paid). 

Also named in the indictment are Attorney Robert S. Ciresi, 77, of Hope, R.I., and Edward Imondi, 73, of North Providence, R.I., who acted as middlemen. The indictment alleges that both Ciresi and Imondi received a portion of the respective bribes they delivered.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, the indictment charges each defendant as it relates to their role in each of the four alleged extortion and bribery schemes. John Zambarano is also charged with one count of making a false statement for lying to the FBI. The indictment also includes asset forfeiture allegations which seek to recoup $46,000 in bribe money.

U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha commented, “When charges in this matter were first announced, I urged anyone with knowledge related to the conduct alleged would do well to contact the FBI. Some have. Others may not have. As today’s expanded Indictment demonstrates, this investigation is not over, and I reiterate that anyone with information would do well to step forward.”

Potential maximum sentences for each charge contained in the indictment include 5 years in federal prison, 3 years supervised release and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy; 10 years in federal prison, 3 years supervised release and a $250,000 fine for bribery; 20 years in federal prison, 5 years supervised release and a $250,000 fine for extortion; and 5 years in federal prison, 3 years supervised release and a $250,000 fine for false statement to a federal agent.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Terrence P. Donnelly.

The matter continues to be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rhode Island State Police, Providence Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division have also assisted in the investigation.

An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Arraignment dates have not yet been scheduled.



Contact: 401-709-5357



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