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    Rhode Island speaker’s work, home raided in probe

    Rhode Island State Representative Gordon Fox.
    Steven Senne/Associated Press/File 2013
    Rhode Island State Representative Gordon Fox.

    PROVIDENCE — Law enforcement officials raided the office and home of House Speaker Gordon Fox Friday as part of a criminal investigation by the US attorney’s office, FBI, IRS, and State Police.

    Officials would not say who or what was being investigated, but authorities worked for hours inside the Democratic House speaker’s State House office while state troopers stood outside.

    Authorities entered the office carrying an evidence bag and empty cardboard boxes Friday morning. Fox’s spokesman, Larry Berman, said State Police had asked those in the office to leave but he did not know why.

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    About 4 p.m., a dozen agents left Fox’s office carrying boxes and other items.

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    Several news outlets said Fox returned to his home on the East Side of Providence, shortly after FBI agents removed boxes from it. He did not comment.

    A US attorney’s office spokesman, Jim Martin, would not comment when asked whether the House speaker was being investigated. He said two federal search warrants had been executed, but he would not say whether they were connected to Fox.

    Lawmakers were already maneuvering Friday to replace Fox. House majority leader Nick Mattiello said he was among those who hoped to become the next House speaker. He was camped out in a restaurant in the city’s Federal Hill neighborhood Friday afternoon making calls to fellow Democrats and called an ‘‘informational caucus’’ for Friday evening to talk about ‘‘the future of the House.’’

    He said the news of the raids was ‘‘unsettling,’’ but he stopped short of calling for Fox to relinquish his leadership job.

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    State Representative James McLaughlin, a Cumberland Democrat, attended Friday night’s meeting after hearing of the raid on the television news.

    He said that Fox has had many great accomplishments as speaker and that whatever this inquiry is about, ‘‘I don’t think it reflects on his legislative’’ achievements.

    In January, Fox agreed to a settlement with the state Ethics Commission for failing to disclose he had done more than $40,000 in legal work for a Providence economic development agency. He admitted breaking a law that requires elected officials to annually report if they received more than $250 in income from a government agency and agreed to pay a $1,500 civil fine.