June 2, 2022
Man sentenced for assault on police, robbery with ghost gun, high-capacity magazine
A Providence man on Wednesday was sentenced to 23 years in prison after pleading to multiple felony charges stemming from his arrest for armed assault on a police officer and robbery with ghost gun and a large-capacity magazine.
Roberto Cruz Rivera, 30, entered a no contest plea to first-degree robbery, discharge of a firearm during a robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon on a police officer, discharge of a firearm while committing an assault on a police officer, and carrying a pistol without a license.
Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause sentenced him to 53 years, with 23 years to serve at the Adult Correctional Institutions.
“This case demonstrates the enormous danger that large-capacity magazines, that remarkably remain lawful in Rhode Island, and illegal firearms pose to members of the public and law enforcement alike,” Attorney General Peter F. Neronha said. “This defendant not only brandished a ghost gun during this robbery, but also discharged it, including at a pursuing police officer. The long sentence imposed by the court here should send a strong message that gun violence perpetrated against police and members of the public will bring the most serious consequences.”
On Oct. 29, 2020, Rivera robbed a 7-Eleven convenience store in Providence and shot at an officer during a car chase that followed, prosecutors said.
During the robbery, a Providence police officer pulled into the store parking lot and heard gunshots. Rivera pointed his handgun at him as he ran across the street towards a car driven by a co-defendant, Jeffrey McKay.
Police chased the care down Chad Brown Street, Admiral Street, Charles Street, and Mineral Spring Avenue before the car crashed into a median on a Route 146 on-ramp. Rivera fled from the crash on foot, but police caught him in a nearby wooded area, prosecutors said. Officers recovered a Polymer80 9 mm semi-automatic ghost gun with a 27-round large-capacity magazine.
— By Edward Fitzpatrick
May 25, 2022
2 sent to prison for roles in drug trafficking scheme
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Two Rhode Island men have been sent to prison for their roles in a drug trafficking scheme that shipped or tried to ship an estimated 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of cocaine to the state through the postal service, federal prosecutors said.
George Mojica, 42, and Angel Delgado, 25, both of Central Falls, were sentenced Monday to seven years and five years in prison respectively, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.
The defendants retrieved packages that had been delivered to homes around the state, each containing a kilogram (2.2 pounds) or more of cocaine, authorities said. The recipient names on the packages were not associated with the delivery addresses, they said.
Based on the number of intercepted packages containing cocaine, their weight, and evidence of cocaine identified by drug-sniffing dogs on discarded packaging materials, the organization is believed to have shipped or tried to ship more than 50 kilograms of cocaine to Rhode Island between January 2018 and December 2019.
Mojica pled guilty in December. Delgado pleaded guilty in January.
May 16, 2022
Providence Police condemns racist mass shooting in Buffalo, vows to ‘stand strong’ with Black community
PROVIDENCE — Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré and Police Chief Col. Hugh T. Clements Jr. condemned the racist mass shooting on May 14 in Buffalo, N.Y. and pledged to ensure the safety of the Black community in Providence.
The attack by an 18-year-old white man that killed 10 and wounded three at a busy grocery store was an act of terrorism against the African-American community, Paré and Clements said on Monday.
“We denounce and condemn this racist behavior that resulted in the death of 10 individuals who were senselessly attacked in broad daylight. The subject responsible for this heinous act brought fear upon the Buffalo community and also to the hearts and minds of every person throughout this country,” they said in a statement.
“The Providence Department of Public Safety stands strong alongside our African American community in Providence and across this country and are outraged by the violence that continues to occur throughout the United States of America,” they said. “The Providence Public Safety team will continue to utilize every resource possible to ensure the safety of our community. We must decimate racism and hatred by identifying individuals who violently attack and kill people because of their race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity or religious beliefs. We express our deepest condolences and prayers to all those involved and will work together as a community to diminish the hate and racism throughout our state and nation.”
May 14, 2022
7 people injured during clash between motorcycle clubs
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Seven people were injured during a Saturday afternoon melee between rival motorcycle clubs in a Massachusetts city.
Police in Fall River say more than fifty people were involved in the brawl at around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Fall River Police Capt. Bardon Castro told WPRI-TV that some of those involved in the fight used weapons, leading to significant injuries, including lacerations, punctures and blunt force trauma.
Four of the victims were taken to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence while three others were taken to Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River. It’s unclear their conditions but police described the injuries as non-life threatening.
No arrests have been made and police didn’t disclose the names of the motorcycle groups involved. They said they’re still conducting interviews and reviewing surveillance footage.
May 12, 2022
2 get life sentences in shooting death of 17-year-old girl
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Two Rhode Island men who pleaded guilty in connection with the 2019 shooting death of a 17-year-old girl have been sent to prison for life, prosecutors said.
Quinton St. Pierre, 20, and Craig Robinson, 20, both pleaded guilty recently to second-degree murder and other charges in the December 2019 death of Nyasia Williams-Thomas as she sat in a vehicle near a Woonsocket apartment complex, according to a statement Wednesday from the office of state Attorney General Peter Neronha.
St. Pierre and Robinson were not trying to shoot Williams-Thomas, but were gunning for a 14-year-old boy with whom they had a dispute who was also in the vehicle, authorities said.
“Petty disputes and illegal firearms in the hands of individuals all too willing to use them remains a toxic mix, resulting in too many senseless deaths in Rhode Island,” Neronha said in a statement. “That is precisely the scenario here, and as a result, a young woman, with her entire life ahead of her, has been lost to her family and her community.”
A third defendant who was also at the scene but was not armed pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit robbery and sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
Rhode Island man gets 3 years for cryptocurrency fraud
NEW YORK (AP) — A 25-year-old Rhode Island man who federal prosecutors say defrauded more than 170 people who poured millions of dollars into his cryptocurrency investment business was sentenced in New York City on Wednesday to more than three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $2.8 million in restitution.
Jeremy Spence, of Bristol, Rhode Island, solicited more than $5 million in investments through false representations, including bogus statements showing his cryptocurrency trading was very profitable when in fact it consistently lost money, Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.
As he lost money, Spence used new investor funds to pay other investors in a Ponzi-like scheme, Williams said. In total, Spence distributed about $2 million worth of cryptocurrency to investors using funds previously deposited by other investors, prosecutors said.
Spence, who previously pleaded guilty to a felony fraud charge, was sentenced to 42 months in prison by U.S District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan.
Spence’s lawyers, Sylvie Levine and Neil Kelly of the Federal Defenders of New York, said in court documents that Spence committed the crimes when he was 21 and 22 years old, the result of getting “in over his head” with the crypto business.
“The money wasn’t stolen or secreted away; it was lost in new, unregulated, volatile markets after it was entrusted to a 21-year-old college drop-out who should never have had that much responsibility in the first place,” they wrote. “In the real world, in traditional markets, no company would ever have entrusted him with that level of responsibility.”
May 6, 2022
Seafood and meat fraudster gets 10 years in federal prison
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island man convicted of cheating food distributors out of more than $800,000 worth of seafood delicacies and prime cuts of meat, and of trying to run over an FBI agent investigating the case, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Paul Diogenes, described in court documents as an “unrepentant and compulsive fraudster” with a propensity to engage in violent behavior toward law enforcement, used stolen banking information from several businesses and created a fictitious catering company to purchase lobster, sea bass, shrimp, scallops, ribeye steak, and wild boar, from November 2020 until July 2021, according to federal prosecutors in Rhode Island.
Diogenes, 50, of Providence, then sold most of the illegally-obtained seafood and meat to area businesses, in some instances to the same businesses whose stolen banking information he used to gain credit from food distributors, prosecutors said.
Last August, as FBI agents and state police troopers tried to arrest him, Diogenes rammed his car into two FBI vehicles, one with two law enforcement officers inside, prosecutors said. He then drove his vehicle toward an FBI agent who had to jump out of the way to avoid injury, and rammed a delivery van before speeding away, prosecutors said.
He was captured nine days later at a Middleborough, Massachusetts hotel with a briefcase filled with more than $116,000 in cash, authorities said.
Diogenes, who according to authorities has 34 convictions on his record, pleaded guilty in December to wire fraud and assault of a federal officer. In addition to his prison sentence, he was ordered to serve three years of probation upon release and pay restitution of more than $830,000.
May 6, 2022
Attorney General files lead enforcement lawsuits against Pawtucket, Woonsocket landlords
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that the Office has filed lawsuits against landlords for noncompliance with state lead poisoning prevention laws at rental properties on Garden Street in Pawtucket and Ward Street in Woonsocket where significant lead hazards were found in a lead-poisoned child’s home. The lawsuits are the latest in a series of lead enforcement actions filed by the Attorney General.
As alleged in the complaints filed in Providence County Superior Court, Chrystal Rivera, Gabriel Alicea, and Sherry Alicea, have – to date – failed to remediate lead violations identified by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) at their respective properties, even after repeated notices and directives from RIDOH and the Attorney General’s Office.
In the lawsuits, the Attorney General is seeking a court order to halt further harmful conduct, to require the defendants to remediate lead hazards and provide adequate alternative housing during remediation, and to appoint a receiver if the defendants are unwilling to correct the lead violations. The Attorney General is also seeking significant monetary penalties of up to $5,000 for every day violations have existed and continue.
Under state law, following a property inspection by the RIDOH, landlords are given multiple opportunities to correct lead hazard violations before the Attorney General may file an enforcement action.
April 28, 2022
Businessman spent pocketed employee withholding taxes on dating website, luxury home
A Rhode Island businessman was convicted of misusing more than a half-million dollars in employment taxes that he collected from his employees to finance his own personal expenditures.
Steven M. Allard, 60, of North Scituate, owner and operator of BR Steel Corporation in Burrillville and Greystone Iron Corporation in Smithfield, admitted to the court that from at least 2017 though 2018, he failed to turn over more than $570,000 in federal employment taxes and FICA payments withheld from his employees to the IRS.
Instead, Allard used the money to purchase of more than $216,000 in “credits” to online dating website RussianBrides.com, and approximately $93,000 in rent payments for a Scituate luxury home, according to US Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.
Allard pleaded guilty in September 2020, but was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell to 33 months in federal prison followed by three years in federal, supervised release. The matter was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the IRS’ Criminal Investigation.
He was also ordered to pay $625,186.29 in restitution to the IRS.
This was Allard’s third federal conviction and sentencing in US District Court in Rhode Island. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Prior to that, he was found guilty by a jury at trial of accepting kickbacks from public employees and was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison. — ALEXA GAGOSZ
April 15, 2022
Man pleads guilty in torching of Providence police cruiser
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island man who according to authorities helped burn a Providence police cruiser during a night of vandalism in the summer of 2020 has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit arson.
In exchange for his guilty plea on Thursday, Nicholas Scaglione, 32, of Cranston, faces from 30 months to 46 months in prison at sentencing scheduled for July 14.
The cruiser was destroyed in the early morning hours of June 2, 2020 in what former Gov. Gina Raimondo called an “organized attack on the community” outside the Providence Place mall.
Authorities have said Scaglione was part of a “mob” bent on destruction that coincided with, but was separate from the nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Scaglione sprayed a flammable liquid into the cruiser, causing a small fire to intensify just moments after he and others unsuccessfully tried to flip the vehicle onto its side, the U.S. attorney’s office in Providence has said.
He originally pleaded guilty in March 2021 to a charge of malicious attempt to damage or destroy a vehicle, but was recharged after a disagreement over his sentence.
A second man charged in the case been found incompetent.
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