Former Central Falls Mayor Pleads Guilty To Soliciting And Accepting A Bribe; Court Vacates Conviction For Accepting Gratuities
Charles Moreau Sentenced To Time Served In Federal Prison, 3 Years Supervised Release,
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Former Central Falls Mayor Charles D. Moreau pleaded guilty in federal court today to soliciting and accepting a bribe from longtime friend, businessman and political supporter Michael G. Bouthillette. Moreau admitted to the court that he participated in a corruption scheme in which the former mayor accepted goods and services from Mr. Bouthillette in exchange for directing and providing board-up work on more than 160 properties in Central Falls between 2007 and 2009.
Moreau’s November 2012 conviction and sentence for accepting gratuities from Mr. Bouthillette in this matter was vacated by the court today on a defense motion citing a recent First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in an unrelated case which found that the statute that Moreau pleaded guilty to violating is not applicable to gratuities.
After pleading guilty to soliciting and accepting a bribe, Moreau was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to time served on the previous conviction of nearly 12 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years supervised release; 300 hours of community service to the City of Central Falls; and a fine of $25,000. Moreau had previously been sentenced to 24 months in prison. Moreau remains a convicted felon.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and Colonel Steven G. O’DonnellSuperintendent of the Rhode Island State Police announced Moreau’s guilty plea to a charge of accepting a bribe and sentence.
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. Moreau admitted 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.
An investigation conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and the Rhode Island State Police found that from approximately September 2007 to July 2009, Bouthillette boarded up at least 167 homes. Bouthillette submitted an invoice to the City of Central Falls for each 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.
At the time of his guilty plea in November 2012, Bouthillette admitted to the court that as a 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.
Bouthillette, whose conviction and sentence are unaffected by today’s court actions, was sentenced to 3 years of probation, including 2,000 hours of community service to the residents of Central Falls – the equivalent of one year of fulltime employment without pay - and a fine of $5,000. The court also ordered Bouthillette to provide the Rhode Island Foundation with a payment of $160,000 to establish an endowment of charitable funds for the residents of Central Falls for public safety, housing and education programs. In addition, Bouthillette is prohibited from collecting more than $275,000 in liens placed on properties for board-up work he performed for which he yet to be paid. The court ordered that any remaining funds to be collected by Bouthillette are to be provided to the City of Central Falls.
The cases were prosecuted jointly by the government and the state in federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly and Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General J. Patrick Youngs.