Middleman in $18M Navy scheme sentenced to 3 years
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A former Navy subcontractor who was a middleman in a kickback scheme that cost the U.S. Navy $18 million has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Russell Spencer was also ordered to pay $18 million in restitution during sentencing today in U.S. District Court in Providence.
Spencer is one of six people to plead guilty. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery and lying to the FBI. Spencer apologized for his actions at sentencing.
He has acknowledged funneling kickbacks from a Georgia-based Navy contractor to civilian Navy employee Ralph Mariano and others.
The company's founder was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday. Mariano, who worked for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport and at the Washington Navy Yard, is serving a 10-year prison term.
RI investigation nets dozens of gang members
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A two-year investigation into the Rhode Island branch of a notorious international gang has resulted in the conviction of 24 individuals on drug trafficking, weapons and assault charges.
Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha said today that the probe dismantled the local chapter of the MS-13 criminal organization.
During the investigation authorities seized 23 kilograms of heroin - including the state's largest single heroin seizure - as well as firearms, 12 vehicles, more than $400,000 in cash and 100 grams of cocaine.
Besides those convicted, authorities arrested another 12 people who face deportation.
Authorities say they targeted gang leaders and members involved in the trafficking of heroin from the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.
The investigation was a joint effort by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
PROVIDENCE TEEN KILLED
Man, 20, charged with murdering teen in Providence
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A 20-year-old man has been ordered held without bail after being charged with murder in the mid-day shooting death of a Providence teenager.
Police say 16-year-old Eric Cuesta was sitting in his cousin's minivan around 1:30 p.m. yesterday when a man he knew, Louis Pina, shot him in the chest over a minor dispute.
The boy was pronounced dead at Hasbro Children's Hospital.
Pina appeared on murder and other charges in Providence District Court today. He did not enter a plea.
DOUBLE HOMICIDE-CENTRAL FALLS
Homeless man pleads not guilty to 2 murders
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A homeless man has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in the deaths of two acquaintances in Central Falls.
Pedro Lopez is accused of stabbing to death Nathan Lewis and Malcolm Townes last June in the men's apartment. Their decomposed bodies were found in the sweltering apartment on July 3 when a neighbor reported a foul odor and maggots falling from her ceiling.
He also pleaded not guilty to possessing Lewis' stolen car.
Neither the Central Falls police nor attorney general's office has disclosed a motive.
The Providence Journal reports that Lopez's lawyer, Craig Montecalvo, filed paperwork seeking details from the state.
The 19-year-old Lopez had been arrested by Central Falls police three times in five months for stealing cars.
RI man, ex-teacher, sentenced on child porn charge
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island man who was a longtime teacher at a Massachusetts high school has been sentenced to 18 months in a halfway house on federal child pornography charges.
Stephen Hickey, of Warwick, R.I., was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Providence.
The 60-year-old Hickey was for 30 years a social studies teacher at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin, Mass., until his arrest in February. He pleaded guilty in August.
Prosecutors say Hickey was arrested as part of an international investigation and was a customer of an Internet child pornography distributor. Child pornography images were found on his home computer.
The Sun Chronicle reports that Hickey expressed remorse in court. His lawyers say he had an impeccable record as a teacher and never assaulted a child.
Woonsocket to end tax exemption for some groups
WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) - Woonsocket officials are considering taxing previously tax-exempt organizations, prompting one group to say its charitable work end.
The Woonsocket Call reports that tax Assessor Christopher Celeste says 13 tax-exempt organizations were recently sent assessment notices. They include fraternal organizations, civic groups and other agencies.
The Budget Commission may add more.
It will send a tax bill to the groups next July based on property values in the assessment notices.
The land and buildings of the organizations have a combined value of $1 million and taxes would be $382,040. Celeste says the revenue would allow Woonsocket to reduce taxes for the average single-family homeowner's by about $30 a year.
One group, the Italian Workingmen's Club, says paying taxes would end its work raising money for victims of crime and calamity, the needy and other causes.
STATEHOUSE CHRISTMAS TREE
RI to light Statehouse Christmas tree
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island Secretary of State Ralph Mollis is set to light the Statehouse Christmas tree.
Mollis will preside over festivities scheduled to start at 5 p.m. The tree lighting is 6 p.m.
The annual tradition had become the source of controversy after some residents angrily protested Governor Lincoln Chafee's use of the term "holiday" tree. Chafee, following the example of past governors, had said his word choice reflected the state's religious diversity and its founding as a haven for tolerance.
This year Chafee backtracked by calling it a Christmas tree in invitations to the lighting. Chafee won't attend because he is in New Jersey to speak at Princeton University.
This year's tree is a 17-foot-tall blue spruce donated by Sal and Nancy DeFazio of Cranston.
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