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Rhode Island crime news: June 2022

Providence Police investigate a shooting on Carolina Avenue, late Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Providence, R.I.Stew Milne/Associated Press

July 7, 2022

R.I. State Police arrest 25 for driving under the influence on ‘busy’ July 4 weekend

Rhode Island State Police arrested 53 people during the July 4 holiday weekend, nearly half of them for driving under the influence, the agency said.

The 25 DUI arrests and 28 arrests for other crimes came during what police described as a busy weekend. Police also issued 611 traffic summonses and investigated 59 car crashes.

— By Brian Amaral

July 6, 2022

Newport Police withholding mugshots of two men assaulted by police during violent arrest, lawyers say

NEWPORT — The lawyers for two local men whose arrest on June 26 was captured in a viral video say the Newport police still have not released their mugshots.

Dennis Engleson and Christopher Adams, both 22, were punched in the face by two officers, who wrote in their reports that the men were being disorderly and struggled while being arrested.

None of the officers involved with the violent arrests used the department’s body-worn cameras, and their official reports differ significantly from what appears on viral videos.

The cell-phone videos shared widely on social media show Detective Patrick Walsh shoving bystanders and knocking one headfirst into a lamppost. Then, when Adams was walking by and stopped behind him, Walsh struck Adams in the head, knocking him down, and dragged him to the curb, where he handcuffed him and punched him in the head again. Officer John Sullivan also punched Engleson in the face while arresting him.

Both Engleson and Adams were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstruction. They pleaded not guilty to all misdemeanor charges at their arraignment on Wednesday in Newport District Court, where a judge granted their request to move their cases to Superior Court.

“If this matter is going to proceed to trial, it will be before a jury of his peers,” said lawyer Craig Hein, who is representing Adams.

Hein and Engleson’s lawyer, Christopher Millea, had requested the police reports. They eventually got the reports, although without the mugshots, which is unusual. The police also did not give the Globe the mugshots, which are considered public records under Rhode Island law.

A photo of Adams taken days later shows his face swollen and bruised. Hein said Adams is still being treated for injuries.

— By Amanda Milkovits

July 5, 2022

‘Hot tub lawyer’ pleads no contest to firing gun in compact area; other charges dismissed

EAST PROVIDENCE — Lawyer Ryan J. McNelis has pleaded no contest to firing his handgun outside his identical twin’s house on Pawtucket Avenue on New Year’s Day.

McNelis had been hanging out in the hot tub with his twin, Robert, who is also a lawyer, and others when the celebration turned ugly just before 4 a.m. Police were called about gunfire and screams of “Just shoot me!” at the house on 3093 Pawtucket Ave., where they found blood and broken glass, and a shirtless and bloody Robert McNelis, according to a police report.

Police found three .380 caliber shells in the driveway, but Ryan McNelis had run off with his gun, the report said. Officers and K-9 units from Pawtucket and the State Police joined the search for McNelis; an officer finally found him running on Pawtucket Avenue and arrested him at gunpoint.

McNelis no longer had the firearm and wouldn’t tell the officers where he’d left it, according to a police report. Officers noticed that he had a strong odor of alcohol, slurred speech, and bloodshot eyes, the police report said.

That New Year’s Day arrest led to McNelis serving 30 days at the Adult Correctional Institutions for violating his probation on a misdemeanor fraud case, where he’d forged signatures on papers to register his salvaged 2003 Acura.

On June 22, McNelis pleaded nolo contendere to firing in a compact area and received a three-year deferred sentence. He is also on a payment plan for $93 in court costs.

A plea of nolo contendere means the defendant neither accepts nor denies responsibility for the charges but agrees to accept punishment.

Prosecutors dismissed a felony charge of carrying a gun while intoxicated and a misdemeanor domestic disorderly charge. A felony charge of carrying without a license was dismissed, because Ryan McNelis had a concealed-carry permit at the time.

The disciplinary board of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, which reviews evidence against lawyers and recommends disciplinary action to the Supreme Court, is aware of Ryan McNelis’ criminal record. His status as a lawyer is unclear.

— By Amanda Milkovits

June 30, 2022

Bristol man sentenced in insider trading scheme

BOSTON (AP) — A Rhode Island man who authorities say made a more than $50,000 profit by trading shares of a Massachusetts semiconductor company based on insider information has been sentenced to a month of home detention and two years of probation.

John Younis, 59, of Bristol, Rhode Island, was sentenced in federal court in Boston on Wednesday after pleading guilty in March to securities fraud charges.

Younis was one of three men charged in the scheme in January.

Prosecutors allege that in June 2016, one of the other men obtained nonpublic information from a relative who is a senior executive at Analog Devices, Inc. about a planned acquisition of Linear Technology Corp., in Milpitas, California.

That man allegedly passed the information to Younis, who purchased shares of Linear stock in advance of the public announcement of the acquisition, prosecutors said.

Younis also purchased call options — a bet that the price of a stock will increase prior to the expiration of the option — and tipped off a business associate, prosecutors said.

After the deal was announced, Younis’ and his associate sold their Linear securities at a profit, prosecutors said.

The other two men have pleaded not guilty and await trial.

June 29, 2022

TSA stops loaded firearm during security screening at TF Green Airport

Transportation Security Administration officers stopped a passenger from carrying a firearm onto an airplane at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick this week.

During a security screening, a TSA officer detected the firearm in the man’s carry-on bag. The Rhode Island Airport Police (RIAP) responded and discovered that the 9mm firearm was loaded. The passenger, an unidentified man from Oklahoma, also had a magazine that contained a total of 11 rounds.

The passenger had a permit, according to TSA officials, but he did not check or declare the firearm. RIAP confiscated the firearm and the passenger was eventually cleared through security and allowed on the plane.

This was the second firearm detection at a security checkpoint at the airport this year. In 2021, TSA detected two firearms at T.F. Green, and four in 2020.

“Our TSA officers continue to do an outstanding job preventing firearms from entering the secure area of the airport,” said Daniel Burche, TSA’s federal security director for Rhode Island. “Passengers who are traveling with firearms need to ensure they are properly packed in their checked baggage. When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm it can slow or shut down security screening until the police resolve the incident.”

There have been 18 firearm detections at security checkpoints this year at New England-based airports, according to TSA officials.

June 28, 2022

Man who hid drugs in child’s backpack gets 7-year sentence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A man who stored more than 1,000 counterfeit Adderall pills containing methamphetamine or fentanyl in a child’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack in the Rhode Island apartment he shared with his three children has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Davith Hoy, 42, was a wholesaler of methamphetamine and fentanyl pills whose crimes came to light when an alleged dealer he supplied was arrested in an unrelated case, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Rhode Island.

That person made a phone call from behind bars that was monitored by authorities, in which he arranged for his girlfriend to meet Hoy and receive some pills, authorities said.

Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found the drugs in the backpack when they executed a search warrant at Hoy’s Cranston home in March 2021, prosecutors said.

Agents also seized a pill press and other items used to manufacture meth and fentanyl pills that were meant to resemble the prescription drug Adderall, used to treat ADHD.

Hoy pleaded guilty in March to multiple drug charges. The other man and his girlfriend await trial.

June 27, 2022

Ringleader of check fraud scheme gets 5 years in prison

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The ringleader of a plot that defrauded multiple Rhode Island banks out of tens of thousands of dollars through a counterfeit check scheme has been sentenced to five years in prison, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Terrance Richardson, 30, of Providence, was also sentenced Friday to three years of probation after pleading guilty in March to a dozen counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and ordered to pay more than $80,000 in restitution, prosecutors said.

Richardson and several alleged accomplices created counterfeit checks using bank accounts from real businesses and people, prosecutors said. Those checks were then deposited into the accounts of people who agreed to participate in the conspiracy in exchange for a cash payment, often solicited through social media.

After the fake checks were deposited, the proceeds were quickly withdrawn, often before the banks could determine that the checks were fraudulent.

The scheme ran from about April 2020 until March 2021, authorities said.

June 22, 2022

Dominican man convicted in trafficking ‘millions of doses’ of cocaine and fentanyl sentenced to 15 years in federal prison

A twice-deported Dominican national living in Providence who led a drug-trafficking organization that imported millions of doses of Mexican-sourced cocaine and fentanyl was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Providence to fifteen years in federal prison, announced US Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

Juni Rafael Jimenez-Martinez, 47, was convicted after DEA Rhode Island Drug Task Force and the State Police High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas task force seized 18 kilos of fentanyl, enough to yield 9 million doses, nearly 20 kilos of cocaine, and a kilo of heroin.

“Operation Seek and Destroy,” the investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force determined that Jimenez-Martinez used using trusted friends and associates to carry out much of the organization’s day-to-day business, while he oversaw and directed the importation, transportation, storage, and distribution of kilos of drugs, according to the US Attorney’s office.

Law enforcement seized drug shipments in St. Louis, Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The US Attorney’s office said that Jimenez-Martinez coordinated the movement of the drugs through various U.S. cities, as well as their shipment into New York City, where they were stored.

Jimenez-Martinez had previously been sentenced to 65 months in federal prison after being convicted of drug trafficking in 2009 in federal court in the Southern District of New York.

He was arrested in this investigation on June 6, 2019 and has been detained ever since. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 6, 2021, to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; and being an alien who reentered the United States illegally after having been removed.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith sentenced Jimenez-Martinez on Wednesday to 180 months of incarceration to be followed by ten years of federal supervised release.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul F. Daly, Jr.

June 15, 2022

Man convicted in traffic confrontation gets life sentence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island man convicted of fatally shooting another man during a traffic confrontation on Halloween night in 2020 has been sentenced to life in prison, prosecutors said.

Jairo Esdel Galva, 23, of Central Falls, was sentenced last week to consecutive life sentences for second-degree murder and discharge of a firearm resulting in death in connection with the death of Joel Rosario, according to a statement Tuesday from the office of Attorney General Peter Neronha.

Galva was convicted last November.

Rosario had been celebrating his 22nd birthday with friends on the night of Oct. 31, 2020 when they got into several cars to travel to another location for a party, prosecutors said.

Galva, driving behind them, flashed his high beams several times.

At an intersection in pawtucket, Rosario got out of a vehicle and walked to the front passenger side of Galva’s vehicle, prosecutors said. Galva fired one shot with a .38 caliber revolver he did not legally own into Rosario’s chest before driving away, prosecutors said.

Rosario’s friends took him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

During the trial, the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense, prosecutors said.

June 14, 2022

Georgia man gets 2-year sentence in counterfeit check scheme

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Georgia man was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Rhode Island to two years in prison for his role in a scheme that recruited homeless people to cash counterfeit checks at banks around New England in exchange for a small fee.

The scheme that ran from October 2018 through February 2021 cheated banks in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine out of a total of nearly $500,000, according to a statement from Zachary Cunha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island.

Jalen Ronald Stanford, 28, of Riverdale, Georgia, pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He is one of four Georgia residents who have pleaded guilty, prosecutors said.

The fake business checks, generally in the amount of about $2,000, were made payable to homeless people who agreed to be driven to banks to cash them. In exchange, they were paid about $100 per check successfully cashed, prosecutors said.

The scheme collapsed in February 2021 when a person recruited by the defendants entered a Providence bank and pointed out the car occupied by two of Stanford’s accomplices.

A search of a Providence home used by the suspects resulted in the seizure of a computer loaded with a program used to design and print checks, a printer, blank check stock, and an envelope containing stolen checks and about $5,000 in cash, prosecutors said.

June 14, 2022

Pawtucket, R.I., husband and wife killed in car crash in Seekonk

A husband and wife from Pawtucket, R.I., were killed in a car crash in Seekonk Monday night, the Bristol district attorney’s office said Tuesday.

The crash took place at around 6:04 p.m. at the intersection of Lincoln Street and Route 44, the district attorney’s office said. The victims were identified as Robert and Winifred Langevin, who lived together and were both 70, officials said.

An initial investigation found that Robert Langevin was driving a 2004 Corvette with Winifred Langevin in the passenger seat, officials said. The other driver was identified as a 25-year-old woman, who was not named and was driving a 2017 Jeep Wrangler.

The Langevins were stopped at a stop sign on the northern section of Lincoln Street while the woman was driving eastbound on Route 44, officials said.

“Multiple witnesses told police that the Corvette attempted to cross Route 44 onto the south section of Lincoln Street just as the Jeep Wrangler was approaching the intersection,” officials said. “The driver of the Jeep Wrangler applied her brakes and attempted to swerve out of the way of the Corvette, but had no opportunity to do so as the Corvette had cut right in front of her vehicle.”

Winifred Langevin was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. Robert Langevin was rushed by first responders to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, and later pronounced dead, officials said.

The driver of the Jeep was taken to Rhode Island Hospital to be treated for minor injuries, officials said.

The district attorney’s office said that at this time, it does not appear that “any criminal charges will be filed in connection to this incident.” The crash remains under investigation, officials said.

— By Matt Yan

June 8, 2022

Pawtucket officer accused in road-rage shooting faces civil-rights lawsuit

A Pawtucket school resource officer who is charged with shooting a teenage driver in West Greenwich outside a West Greenwich pizzeria last summer is now also being sued by a Pawtucket man who says the officer punched and choked him in 2019.

Officer Daniel Dolan Jr. has been out on bail on four felony charges since last July, after he shot a teenage driver who sped past him in an Audi going up to 125 miles per hour. He is on unpaid leave from the Pawtucket Police Department while his case is pending.

Last week, Pawtucket resident Michael Moreira filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Dolan and the city of Pawtucket claiming Dolan used “unreasonable force” against him during a confrontation in July 2019 outside Moreira’s home.

Moreira said that he complained to Dolan about a utility truck blocking his driveway. Moreira asked for Dolan’s badge number and said he intended to call the officer’s superiors, according to the lawsuit. He said that Dolan charged him, took him down to the ground.

Moreira was arrested, but the charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and simple assault were filed. The trial judge instead said that Dolan was the “only” “driving” force behind the incident, and that he hoped the city would better train him for the future, according to the lawsuit.

However, the lawsuit alleges, the police department has had numerous civil complaints about Dolan “and yet had failed to further adequately train, supervise, or discipline him.”

Moreira is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

June 7, 2022

Trooper rear-ended by suspected drunk driver while at another crash on Route 95

WARWICK, R.I. — A Rhode Island state trooper suffered minor injuries after a suspected drunk driver rear-ended his cruiser on Route 95 South early Tuesday.

The trooper, who has not been identified, had responded to a crash on Route 95 at Route 37 at 1:09 a.m. along with other state police and Warwick firefighters. The police had blocked off three lanes and were funneling traffic onto the high-speed lane.

The trooper was inside his cruiser with the emergency lights on blocking the third lane of travel when the cruiser was hit by another car. The driver, Christopher Warrener, 36, of Coventry, wasn’t injured, but “displayed obvious signs of intoxication,” according to the state police. His BAC was .228 and .235, nearly triple the legal limit.

Warrener is charged with driving under the influence, with a BAC over .15, and driving to endanger resulting in physical injury.

Warwick firefighters brought the trooper to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.

June 4, 2022

Man gets life in prison for fatal beating of 78-year-old man

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Providence man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 78-year-old man during a 2013 home invasion.

Leopoldo Belen, who was already serving a life sentence for a separate crime, was sentenced Thursday in Providence County Superior Court, according to Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha.

Prosecutors say Belen and co-defendant Joel Valdez broke into a third-floor apartment in Providence in October 2013 and had assaulted a resident when Delor “Dean” Cabral, the owner of the apartment, rushed upstairs to respond. As Cabral entered the apartment, prosecutors said, Belen and Valdez threw him to the floor and stomped on him before fleeing.

The attack caused significant trauma to the head and neck of Cabral, who died nearly a month later.

Valdez pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2015 and is awaiting sentencing. Belen was scheduled to go to trial later this month but changed his plea to no contest, meaning he accepts the charge without admitting guilt.

A lawyer for Belen could not be reached for comment.

Neronha said he hopes the sentence brings “a measure of closure” to Cabral’s family.

“To hear the account of this crime is to be overwhelmed by its senselessness and life-extinguishing impact on a man who had lived life well and at the time of his death was coming to the assistance of others,” he said in a statement.

Another man, Wilbert Richardson, spent 19 months in prison for Cabral’s murder before his charges were dismissed in 2015. Richardson later sued the Providence Police Department, saying he was at a funeral at the time of Cabral’s attack and that there was no DNA to match him to the scene. He went on to settle with the police department for $67,500.

Belen was previously sentenced to life in prison in 2017 after a jury convicted him on four counts of first-degree sexual assault. In that case, prosecutors say Belen violently assaulted his then-girlfriend after becoming angry because she smoked their last cigarette.

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 ten 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.”

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