News and Press Releases

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

May 6, 2010


Good afternoon.  

This afternoon, in United States District Court, this Office charged three members of the North Providence Town Council in connection with an alleged bribery scheme.  Those three North Providence Town Council members are Joseph S. Burchfield, Raymond L. Douglas III, and John A. Zambarano.  Mr. Burchfield is the Town Council President. The complaints filed in Court today allege that the councilmen extorted and accepted a $25,000 cash payment in exchange for their favorable vote on a zoning change to allow for the construction of a supermarket.

Mr. Burchfield, Mr. Douglas and Mr. Zambarano are each charged with extortion in violation of the Hobbs Act, as well as receipt of a bribe by an agent of a local government receiving federal funds. The details underlying those charges are contained in the affidavits underlying the complaints, which were unsealed in Court this afternoon and are now available to the press and public. 

The investigation leading to these charges has been ongoing for some time, and it continues.  Anyone with knowledge related to the conduct alleged in the affidavits would do well to contact the FBI in the very near future.

As is the case in any effective law enforcement operation, this investigation has been and continues to be a collaborative effort.  The FBI has been the lead agency, and, as always, their work has been superlative.  They have been ably assisted by the Rhode Island State Police, the DEA, the IRS, and the Providence Police Department.  White collar crime, and in particular, allegations of political corruption, often require the investment of significant time and resources to properly determine whether or not there is evidence that a crime has been committed and that a criminal complaint can be brought. This investigation has been ongoing for many months. And we are not done yet.
It gives me no pleasure to announce these charges.  I say this because whenever public officials are charged with misusing their office for personal gain, such charges only add to the cynicism that many Rhode Islanders feel about their public officials, the vast majority of whom serve the public with dedication.  That said, those of us in law enforcement, federal, state, and local, have a job to do, and we will continue to do it.

Thank you.   

Contact: 401-709-5357


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