U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
May 17, 2011
THIRD FORMER COUNCILMAN SENTENCED IN NORTH PROVIDENCE
MUNICIPAL EXTORTION & BRIBERY SCHEME
Two former councilmen and a local businessman sentenced Monday to federal prison; 5th defendant to be sentenced in July
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – John A. Zambarano, 48, the third of three former North Providence, R.I., town councilmen to plead guilty for their roles in an extortion and bribery conspiracy was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Providence to 71 months in federal prison - to be followed by 3 years supervised release, a $10,000 fine, and was ordered to forfeit $46,000, the amount of bribe money collected during the kickback schemes.
In addition, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi imposed a concurrent sentence of 71 months in prison – followed by 3 years supervised release and a $2,500 fine in connection with John Zambarano’s role in a scheme with two others to defraud an insurance company of nearly $50,000. Mr. Zambarano was ordered by Chief Judge Lisi to repay $40,012.68 to the insurance company.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office, announced the sentencing of John A. Zambarano.
On Monday, former councilman Joseph S. Burchfield, 43, was sentenced to 64 months in federal prison - to be followed by 3 years supervised release, and a fine of $10,000; former councilman Raymond L. Douglas III, 43, was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison - to be followed by 3 years supervised release, and a fine of $12,500; and North Providence businessman Edward Imondi 74, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years supervised release - the first 12 months to be served in home confinement. In addition, the defendants were ordered to forfeit $46,000, the amount of bribe money collected during the kickback schemes. The councilman had sought at least $108,000 in bribes.
A fifth defendant, Attorney Robert S. Ciresi, 77, convicted at trial by a federal jury on April 26 for acting as a middleman in the bribery scheme, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 28, 2011.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha commented, “Greed is never good. It is particularly offensive when it manifests itself in those who hold the public trust. Mr. Burchfield, Mr. Douglas and Mr. Zambarano took an oath to serve the people of North Providence. Instead, to line their own pockets, they engaged in a scheme to victimize them, recruiting cohorts along the way. They received stiff sentences. Those sentences are well-deserved.”
Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office added, “Each of the individuals found guilty and sentenced in this investigation attempted to illegally tilt the playing field to their personal advantage. The illegal acts of Mr. Douglas, Mr. Zambarano, Mr. Imondi, and Mr. Burchfield came at the expense of other business owners in North Providence who do play by the rules.
Whenever honest and effective government administration is undermined by corrupt public officials, the FBI will focus its efforts on those responsible. Recognizing that these types of crimes seriously erode the community’s trust of elected public officials, investigating public corruption is the FBI's top criminal investigative priority.”
According to court documents and court testimony, an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that former councilmen Burchfield, Douglas and Zambarano conspired together in a scheme to extort bribes in exchange for favorable council votes on four matters. The schemes detailed in court included a $25,000 bribe in exchange for a supermarket development zoning change; a $75,000 bribe in exchange for a zoning change which would permit residential development at a 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, but was never paid; and the attempted extortion of $5,000 from a restaurant owner seeking an extended hours permit that he refused to pay.
According to court documents and court testimony Imondi, acting as a middle-man between the developer of a mill complex and the councilmen, delivered $21,000 in bribe money to the councilmen. The cash represented a partial payment of a $75,000 bribe the councilmen demanded in exchange for their favorable votes on a zoning change.
In addition to pleading guilty for his role in the extortion and bribery schemes, Zambarano pleaded guilty to allegedly conspiring with three others to devise a scheme in which an insurance claim would be filed to repair uninsured flood damage to the home of a co-defendant and co-conspirator which was caused by the historic floods in March 2010. It is alleged the four intentionally caused damage to the roof and interior of the home and an in-ground swimming pool, and then attributed the damages and the previous flood damage to a fictitious wind and rain storm in April 2010. The insurance claim for nearly $50,000 also included money for unrelated home improvement projects.
Chief Judge Lisi ordered John Zambarano to report to federal prison on June 8, 2011 to begin serving his sentence. Joseph Burchfield was ordered to report to federal prison on June 6, 2011 to begin serving his sentence. Raymond Douglas and Edward Imondi were ordered to report on June 27, 2011.
The matter, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Terrence P. Donnelly, was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Rhode Island State Police, Providence Police Department and Internal Revenue Service.