PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – The former mayor of a Rhode Island city that recently emerged from bankruptcy pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge Monday, acknowledging that he accepted gifts from a political supporter who received a lucrative city contract to board up vacant homes.
Charles Moreau apologized to the people of Central Falls, his family and friends after appearing in U.S. District Court in Providence on Monday morning. Moreau, whose hands shook during his hearing, faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in February. Moreau stepped down as mayor in September.
“People make mistakes in life, and I made a mistake. I’m going to pay for it,” Moreau said outside the courthouse.
Asked if he knew he was doing something wrong when he accepted the gifts from Bouthillette, the 48-year-old Moreau said he didn’t.
Moments later, Moreau’s friend and political supporter Michael Bouthillette entered his own guilty plea and admitted that he paid at least in part for a furnace installed at Moreau’s former home in Central Falls, just north of Providence, and for renovations at a home Moreau owned in nearby Lincoln. The total value is estimated at $5,000 to $10,000.
In exchange, Moreau used his emergency powers to order foreclosed homes be boarded up by Bouthillette’s business. Prosecutors say Bouthillette boarded up at least 167 homes between 2007 and 2009 and made “unreasonable profits” of hundreds of thousands of dollars. When city employees questioned the work, and the amounts Bouthillette was charging, Moreau dismissed the concerns, once telling an employee to “mind his own (expletive) business.”
In some cases, Bouthillette re-boarded up homes that other companies had already boarded up or where people were still living. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to pay $160,000 to social service, public safety and other agencies to benefit Central Falls.
Prosecutors are expected to recommend prison time for both men. Court papers said they would recommend at least a year for Bouthillette. U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha has said they view Moreau’s crime more seriously because he is a public official.
Moreau’s lawyer, William Murphy, had no comment on an expected sentence for his client.
Moreau had served as mayor of Central Falls, a 1.3-square-mile city of 19,000 residents, since 2004. He was stripped of his duties in 2010 when a state receiver stepped in to address the finances in the city, where the community center was closed, the library was temporarily shuttered, taxes went up and pensions were slashed. Moreau and several members of the City Council fought the constitutionality of the receivership law in court, to no avail.
The receiver filed for bankruptcy on the city’s behalf in August 2011. The city came out of bankruptcy in October.
Central Falls City Councilman James Diossa and former police Chief Joe Moran are running in the Dec. 11 election to serve out the remainder of Moreau’s term. Diossa said Moreau’s guilty plea “brings to an end a sad chapter in our city’s history.”
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- 12 things to watch before the Oscars
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Best and worst of Super Bowl commercials
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain
- Ticking time bombs: Telltale signs your water heater is about to explode
- Reading glasses could be a thing of the past
- 6 cool ways teachers are using technology in the classroom
- Emerging tech jobs in Phoenix and how to get one in 2017
- 4 top treatments athletes use for pain
- Emergency! What to do when bathrooms flood
- Operation Santa Claus needs holiday help
- This college bowl season is likely to be epic
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- 11 holiday classics for the ultimate movie marathon
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night