Central Falls mayor sentenced on bribery charges

Moreau will serve two years in prison and pay $25,000 fine for receiving illegal contributions

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2013

Former Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday by the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island for accepting gifts from friend and contractor Michael Bouthillette. In exchange, Moreau had awarded Bouthillette an exclusive contract for renovations to city buildings, according to a Feb. 13 Boston Globe article.

Between the years 2007 and 2009, Bouthillette worked on at least 167 buildings in the city, charging inflated rates and earning what prosecutors deemed “unreasonable profits,” the Associated Press reported. In return, Bouthillette installed a furnace in Moreau’s Central Falls home and performed “more than $16,000 in renovations” at Moreau’s second home in Lincoln, according to the Providence Journal.

Central Falls — which is Rhode Island’s smallest and poorest municipality — declared bankruptcy in August 2011. At that point, the city’s deficit was over $6 million. After a year under state receivership, during which a state-appointed official governed the city, Central Falls emerged from bankruptcy in October.

Moreau, who served as mayor for over eight and a half years, was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine. He will report to prison on March 4.

In explaining his judgment, U.S. District Judge John McConnell said he considered the effects of Maureau’s behavior on public trust but ultimately decided not to impose the maximum sentence of 27 months.

Moreau  presented a letter to the court accepting responsibility for his misdeeds and appeared regretful during the proceedings, apologizing to friends, family and the citizens of Central Falls, the AP reported.

Bouthillette was sentenced to three years’ probation and 2,000 hours of community service, fined $5,000 and was ordered to pay Central Falls $160,000 to set up a charitable fund for local residents. He was also ordered to “release an estimated $277,000 in liens” on sites where he worked, according to the AP.

Moreau pled guilty to charges of corruption last September only hours after resigning from his post, The Herald previously reported. A 2010 investigation conducted by the Providence Journal revealed that Bouthillette received “almost $2 million and numerous personal bonuses for the contracted services,” The Herald reported previously.

Former City Councilman James Diossa will serve as mayor for the remainder of Moreau’s term. Diossa has vowed to run an honest and transparent administration, the AP reported.