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RI state senator loses committee seats over remarks to police

PROVIDENCE - A state senator agreed to step down from two top committee posts Wednesday following an incident in which he allegedly tried to pressure officers not to arrest a fellow lawmaker.

Senator Frank Ciccone, a Democrat from Providence, will step down from the Government Oversight Committee and the Finance Committee, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said after meeting with Ciccone. Ciccone had served as chairman of the oversight committee.

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“I expressed my concern regarding the events of last week,’’ said Paiva Weed, a Democrat from Newport. “He agreed the events were regrettable, and he was contrite. After a brief discussion, we agreed that the institution of the Senate is larger than any one individual.’’

Barrington police say Ciccone tried to intervene after officers stopped Senate majority leader Dominick Ruggerio on suspicion of drunken driving last week. Police say Ciccone tried to call top police officials to deal with “the problem’’ and warned an officer, “You think you got pension problems now, wait till this . . . is all done.’’’

Attempts to reach Ciccone on Wednesday were unsuccessful. He said last week, “I regret anything I may have said that might have been inappropriate.’’

The drunken driving charge against Ruggerio was dismissed Wednesday, a day after he acknowledged his refusal to take an alcohol test. His license was suspended for six months, and he agreed to perform 10 hours of community service.

The incident prompted Republican congressional candidate Brendan Doherty to say Wednesday that he would return the $1,000 Ciccone contributed to his campaign last year.

Doherty released a statement saying Ciccone showed “very poor judgment.’’

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