U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
September 19, 2012
Central Falls Mayor, Businessman to Plead Guilty to Federal Charges
Investigation reveals Mayor Charles Moreau allegedly received illegal gratuities from businessman and political supporter Michael Bouthillette in return for providing board-up work on more than 160 properties in Central Falls
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Central Falls Mayor Charles D. Moreau and longtime friend, businessman and political supporter Michael G. Bouthillette were charged in a two-count Information filed in federal court in Providence today with allegedly participating in a scheme in which the mayor accepted goods and services from Mr. Bouthillette in return for having directed and provided board-up work on at least 167 properties in Central Falls between 2007 and 2009. According to signed documents filed with the U.S. District Court, Moreau and Bouthillette have agreed to plead guilty to the federal charges.
The charges and plea agreements 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, Mayor Moreau allegedly directed that all vacated homes in Central Falls be boarded up and that all board-up work be done by his friend and longtime political supporter Michael Bouthillette. According to court documents, the mayor 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 court documents, Bouthillette submitted an invoice to the city 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. It is alleged that this system allowed Bouthillette to make unreasonable profits amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to court documents, it is alleged that as reward to Mayor Moreau for providing him with the board-up work, Bouthillette on three occasions gave Moreau things of value. It is alleged that in March of 2009, Bouthillette assisted Moreau in obtaining a furnace for Moreau’s Central Falls residence for which Bouthillette allegedly contributed at least a portion of the purchase price of the furnace; from March to November of 2009, Bouthillette allegedly provided numerous renovations and repairs to a Lincoln residence owned by Moreau which Moreau has never paid for; and in April 2010, Bouthillette allegedly provided flood remediation work at Moreau’s Lincoln home which Moreau never paid for. It is alleged that Moreau accepted each of these gratuities from Bouthillette.
An Information 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.
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.