January 24, 2007

A New Year Brings More Ethics Violations

Marc Comtois

The ProJo reports:

The state Ethics Commission ruled yesterday that it is more likely than not that Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano intentionally violated the state ethics code by failing to report tens of thousands of dollars in income from West Warwick for legal work associated with the Narragansett’s failed casino proposal.

The commission decided behind closed doors that probable cause exists to pursue eight charges of “knowing and willful” ethics violations against Montalbano, D-North Providence, who easily won reelection to the state Senate’s top post three weeks ago.

And in addition to filing incomplete financial statements, the commission found it likely that Montalbano intentionally participated in Senate votes for which there was a clear conflict.

Montalbano “knew or should have known that his participation and vote… while also providing legal services to the town concerning property which abutted the proposed casino site, could implicate certain conflict of interest provisions contained in the code of ethics,” according to an investigative report released yesterday by commission prosecutors...

Aside from one of the charges, Montalbano doesn’t deny the basic facts in the prosecution’s case. Through his lawyer, he acknowledges collecting more than $86,000 in income from West Warwick since 2003 for legal work that included clearing the titles on two parcels of land near the proposed Harrah’s-Narragansett Indian casino. Voters rejected the casino plan in the Nov. 7 election.

Robert P. Arruda, the former head of Operation Clean Government, which brought the complaint, said after the hearing that there was clear evidence of a “substantial conflict of interest” as Montalbano “shepherded through” a bill that would allow voters to weigh in on the casino proposal.

Ho hum. Just another day in RI.

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Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
In my fantasy world, the good 'ol boy Dems are kicking him loose right now. In the real world, Murphy and the North Providence/West Warwick crew are probably just circling the wagons.

Posted by: Rhody at January 24, 2007 11:39 AM

Its especially "ho hum, its just another day" in North Providence. However, what is unusual, is we do have a GOP candidate for Mayor of North Providence (Billy Goodman) in the special election coming in April to replace Ralph Mollis. Right now we are still getting signatures to get on the ballot. Anyone interested in hearing more about this can reply to me at bschiller@localnet.com or call me 353-6536, for more info.

Posted by: Barry Schiller at January 24, 2007 1:44 PM

Picky, picky, picky. ANYBODY could lose track of $86,000. Forget to declare $15,000+ annual income. Five years in a row. From a project that was dominating the headlines, radio and tv.

This is a witch hunt.

Posted by: SusanD at January 24, 2007 8:40 PM

Violating the state ethics code is the least of Montalbano's worries.

The feds are already batting 1.000 with Cianci, Licoln Greyhound Park, Celona, Roger Williams, CVS, etc. and the money paid to Celona was far less than what Montalbano received.

To make matters worse, Montalbano is being confrontational and you just know how federal prosecutors love it when that happens.

I predicted that Cianci was going down, that Celona was going down and that powers that be at Beacon Mutual would go down (which happened when Carcieri installed one of his best friends as CEO). My next prediction: Montalbano goes down.

My guess is that the only reason it hasn't happened so far is because the FBI has been busy with Montalbano's former fellow state senator from N. Providence Celona and the CVS case.

But there's no doubt that after Dennis Aiken became one of the FBI's national golden boys by taking down Cianci, word has gotten around the FBI that RI is a great place to find a high profile case that allows you to earn your stripes.

In my view that's a good thing for RI.

Posted by: Anthony at January 25, 2007 3:18 PM

Gee, I wonder what WW legislator was instrumental in getting Montalbano the WW work in the first place?

Could it be that this "poweerful " legislator will also be in the news too?

'07 looks to be a great year if the "good guys" keep looking at the WW - Smith Hill connections.

Posted by: Aldo at January 25, 2007 4:41 PM

"Montalbano is being confrontational"

Yeah baby!

Stick to your guns, Joey. You're innocent. They ain't got nothin' on ya.

And who the hell are they, anyway, coming into our state, interfering with how we do things??

Posted by: SusanD at January 25, 2007 10:05 PM
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