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Both sides requesting documents in R.I. political money-laundering case

Defense lawyer says no discussions yet about resolving the case before going to trial in Superior Court

Jeffrey T. Britt, left, and his lawyer, former US Attorney Robert Clark Corrente, leave the Kent County Courthouse on Tuesday, March 10.
Jeffrey T. Britt, left, and his lawyer, former US Attorney Robert Clark Corrente, leave the Kent County Courthouse on Tuesday, March 10.Edward Fitzpatrick

WARWICK, R.I. -- Both sides have filed motions to force the other side to provide documents that would be used in the money-laundering trial of Jeffrey T. Britt, the political operative charged in connection with House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello’s 2016 reelection campaign.

But after a brief chambers conference on Tuesday, Britt’s lawyer, former US Attorney Robert Clark Corrente, said he expects the prosecution and defense to finish exchanging documents and other discovery material soon.

Britt, 51, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, has pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, a felony, and making a prohibited campaign contribution, a misdemeanor.

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He is accused of funneling money to a Republican candidate, Shawna Lawton, so she could put out a mailer endorsing Mattiello, a Cranston Democrat, in his hotly contested 2016 House district race against state Republican National Committeeman Steven Frias. Mattiello eked out a win, edging Frias by 85 votes.

After the hearing, Corrente was asked if he expects the case to go to trial.

“Barring a resolution, we do,” he said. “It is common to have discussions before trial about a resolution, and we will see if it happens in this case.”

At this point, no such discussions have taken place, Corrente said. So it remains to be seen if prosecutors will offer a plea agreement.

On Monday, Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s office filed a motion to compel Britt to hand over documents and other discovery material.

On Feb. 20, Britt’s lawyer had filed a motion to compel the attorney general’s office provide discovery material. At the time, Corrente said that while the state had provided some material, it had not produced any transcripts of grand jury testimony.

Prosecutors said that on Feb. 25 they provided transcripts of grand jury testimony that had been completed up to that point, but prosecutors needed to track down a recording of testimony from Oct. 2, 2019. Prosecutors said they received that recording on March 5 and offered it to Corrente.

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While the October recording is being transcribed, prosecutors argued that the rules don’t require them to produce transcripts of recorded testimony.

On Tuesday, Special Assistant Attorney General Stephen G. Dambruch and Assistant Attorney General John M. Moreira joined Corrente in a conference in the chambers of Superior Court Magistrate Judge John F. McBurney III.

The conference ended after five minutes, and McBurney did not rule on the motions to compel.

Afterward, Corrente said he expects the two sides to finish exchanging documents and other materials shortly.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for March 30.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com