U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
November 19, 2012
Former Central Falls Mayor, Political Supporter Plead Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges
Former Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau admits to receiving gratuities from businessman and political supporter Michael Bouthillette in return for providing board-up work on more than 160 properties
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Central Falls Mayor Charles D. Moreau and longtime friend, businessman and political supporter Michael G. Bouthillette pled guilty to federal corruption charges today for participating in a corruption scheme in which the former mayor accepted goods and services from Mr. Bouthillette as a reward for having directed and provided board-up work on more than 160 properties in Central Falls between 2007 and 2009.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Moreau admitted to the court that beginning in September 2007, he ordered that all vacated homes in Central Falls be boarded up by Michael Bouthillette, a longtime friend and political supporter. Bouthillette admitted to the court that as a reward, on three occasions, he corruptly provided Moreau with things of value. Moreau and Bouthillette each pled guilty to one count of Federal Program Fraud.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
An investigation conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General and the Rhode Island State Police revealed that beginning in September 2007, then Mayor Moreau directed that all vacated homes in Central Falls be boarded up and that all board-up work be done by Michael Bouthillette. Moreau admitted to the court that he circumvented the State requirement that such work go out for competitive bidding by declaring that each vacant home presented as an “emergency” necessitating an immediate board-up. From approximately September 2007 to July 2009, Bouthillette boarded up at least 167 homes.
According to information presented to the court, Bouthillette submitted an invoice to the City of Central Falls for a board-up, at which time a lien was placed on the subject property for the amount of the invoice. As foreclosed properties were sold and the liens discharged, Central Falls would pay Bouthillette. The scheme allowed Bouthillette to make unreasonable profits amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Bouthillette admitted to the court that as reward to the former mayor for providing him with the board-up work, on three occasions he gave Moreau things of value. Bouthillette admitted that in March 2009, he assisted Moreau in obtaining a furnace for Moreau’s Central Falls residence for which Bouthillette admitted that he contributed at least a portion of the purchase price; Bouthillette admitted that, from March to November of 2009, he provided numerous renovations and repairs to a Lincoln residence owned by Moreau which Moreau never paid for; and Bouthillette admitted to the court that in April 2010, he provided flood remediation work at Moreau’s Lincoln home which Moreau never paid for. Moreau admitted to the court that he accepted each of these gratuities from Bouthillette.
Moreau and Bouthillette are scheduled to be sentenced on February 5, 2013. Federal Program Fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison; up to 3 years supervised release; and a fine of up to $250,000.
The case is being prosecuted in federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly and Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General J. Patrick Youngs.