October 9, 2007

Corrente: Martineau latest to cop a plea

Marc Comtois

WPRO reports that U.S. Attorney Robert Corrente has announced a plea agreement with former House Majority Leader Gerard Martineau (D, Woonsocket), who was charged with mail fraud. Martineau apparently opposed pharmacy choice legislation until pharmacies would do business with his company. According to a ProJo piece in 2004:

Two of his customers were CVS and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, companies that regularly lobbied the General Assembly on health-care legislation.

A Providence Journal investigation has found that Martineau, while he was in a position to influence legislation affecting CVS and Blue Cross, was profiting from his private business with those companies.

Martineau was selling bags to CVS, including the familiar white plastic bags with the red CVS logo, when he voted against pharmacy-choice legislation in 1995.

Later, as majority leader, Martineau was instrumental in the passage of laws regulating health care and Blue Cross, the state's largest health insurer.

"I am more committed to [health care] than any other because of the effect it has on so many folks," Martineau said in 2000, as cohost of a state health-care summit.

In June of that year, the same month that the General Assembly passed Martineau's sweeping Health Reform RI 2000 Act, Blue Cross began buying paper bags from him. Over the next few years, Blue Cross purchased hundreds of thousands of bags, and distributed them to some of the pharmacies in its restricted network.

Blue Cross paid CVS to run the network of some 120 drugstores, about a third of which were CVS pharmacies. The network also included Brooks drugstores and independent pharmacies.

The legislature had repeatedly rejected legislation that would have allowed Blue Cross customers to get their prescriptions filled at any drugstore in Rhode Island, as opposed to just those in the network.

Dan Yorke speculates that this is a move to flip an insider for bigger fish. We shall see.

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A former House majority leader strong-arming people to benefit himself?! We'd never see that today.


Posted by: Greg at October 9, 2007 2:28 PM

Martineau was House Majority leader. Contrary to what Dan Yorke said, this is neither a small nor a forgotten fish.

The US Attorney's Office rules. Take all the time you need for these investigations, ladies and gentlemen.

Posted by: Monique at October 9, 2007 3:41 PM

When will we see Patrick Lynch make his contribution to this cleanup? Never I'll bet. Can someone ask Bill Lynch to take these schemes out of the democrat party playbook?

Posted by: Ben at October 9, 2007 4:56 PM

Better check out the BIG promotion Mike Martineau's wife got as part of the deal.

Mike, that's the Woonsocket City Councilman who is Gerry's brother! He's in an election TODAY!

Posted by: Polly at October 9, 2007 5:02 PM

H'mm, nothing came up on an initial search. Polly, our e-mail addresses are posted on the left side of this website, under "Contributors", should you have specific documentation to bring to the public's attention.

And if you prefer to choose the AR contributor to share this with on the basis of alphabetical order as opposed to seniority, that is certainly within your perogative ...

Posted by: Monique at October 9, 2007 10:27 PM

Real subtle, Monique ;)

Anyway... I absolutely agree that Mr. Martineau is a "flipper." I was one of those people that was like "Jerry who?" It's the same thing youu'd do when you're prosecuting Mob figures (somehow seems very appropriate ... you start with the little fish, in order to get the bigger fish, and progressively move up the chain, until you reach the sharks (then you use their cartilage to make traditional Chinese medicines...)

Do you really think that "the pharmacy" just by a clerical error allowed itself to be billed for 10 million bags, but only get 2 million -- but didn't catch it? I can't get 20 cents off a bottle of Tums. It's an obvious means of "laundering" dirty money in order to make it appear "clean" -- anyone who's watched 3 or more episodes of The Sopranos could figure out that one! One thing that no one's mentioned yet is that "the pharmacy" doesn't really lose anything by being overbilled. Besides buying off a key legislator, they can also claim the cost of the bribe (am I being too harsh?) of the "10 million bags" as a business expense!

PS The most frightening thing that I heard today had nothing to do with the plea deal. Dan Yorke briefly mentioned that Patrick Lynch might be in consideration for the post of US Attorney, if a Democrat wins the presidency in 2008. If that happens, we may as all just quit this state and let it die, because the democrat-union-corruption axis of weasels will have complete control of every means that exists to protect us from them.

Posted by: Will at October 10, 2007 1:24 AM


Number one you’ve got to learn how to play golf with Tom Ryan.

Number two, Pat Lynch US Attorney! Not enough space for his two office leather couches and his personal secretary in the current US Attorney’s office.

Posted by: Ken at October 10, 2007 2:07 AM

Message to Ben--Absolutely!

Of course you won't see Patrick Lynch contribute to cleaning this up. He was a lobbyist for CVS and Tom Lynch was the lobbyist FOR Blue Cross!

My question is whether or not there are some Blue Cross people headed out the door in the same way Kramer and Ortiz were given some vacation time from CVS. Danbury, anyone?

The US Attorney's office appears to be the only untainted law enforcement entity in the State of RI.

Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that some people were saying Operation Dollar Bill hadn't amounted to anything? Guess they were wrong.

Here's a taxpayer funded project I'd gladly endorse. Double the size of the US Attorney's office and let them go to town on public corruption cases!

Posted by: Anthony at October 10, 2007 12:27 PM

It takes two to be corrupt. It's about time we made the corporations who engage in this garbage as culpable as the politicians.
Or, by casting a suspicious eye on CVS, are we further degrading the business climate in this state?

Posted by: rhody at October 10, 2007 3:42 PM

I agree that corporations need to be taken to task when they're involved in corruption. At least CVS cleaned house with Kramer and Ortiz. The CEO of Wembley was convicted in relation to Lincoln Greyhound Park and there was a corporate indictment as well.

The biggest resistance to corporate reform has come from companies like Beacon Mutual, which given its role in worker's comp. insurance, was heavily influenced by unions and Blue Cross, whose chairman is the head of the AFL-CIO.

Both Beacon and Blue Cross share similar characteristics. They operate with special consideration from the state. Beacon was created by the state and as a non-profit recognized by the state, Blue Cross receives some special consideratinon.

They also benefit from a lack of competition in their respective markets.

Posted by: Anthony at October 10, 2007 4:36 PM
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