PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Some of the state’s most prominent elected officials are lining up to donate campaign contributions made by the Rhode Island developer who was indicted Wednesday on conspiracy and bribery charges in connection with a North Providence corruption investigation.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, all Democrats, said they would donate to charity the contributions made by Richard P. Baccari Sr., the 71-year-old Narragansett man who is accused of paying a $50,000 bribe to three members of the North Providence Town Council to buy their votes in exchange for a zoning change for a proposed supermarket.
Records reviewed by WPRI.com show Baccari has made at least $41,350 in political contributions to more than a dozen candidates or elected officials since 2000, ranging from local Democratic councilmen to the presidential campaigns of Republicans Mitt Romney and John McCain.
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Chafee's spokeswoman said the governor would donate the $1,200 in contributions he received from Baccari between 2011 and 2013 to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Collin Berglund, a campaign spokesman for Raimondo, confirmed the treasurer would donate her $250 to an unspecified charity. Taveras, who accepted $200 from Baccari, will donate to the nonprofit Justice Assistance.
The politicians who received the most money from Baccari include Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena ($4,000) and former general treasurer Frank Caprio ($3,250). Polisena said if Baccari pleads guilty or is convicted, he’ll use the money to buy a plaque for the new Johnston High School athletic complex, which will open next year.
Caprio, who is again running for treasurer in 2014, has not received any money from Baccari for his current campaign and has “no plans” to return or donate the thousands he received in previous years, according to spokeswoman Patti Doyle.
Doyle is also a spokesperson for Baccari’s company, Churchill and Banks, which was also charged in the indictment. The company could be face up to $1 million in fines.
Caprio's daughter is married to Baccari’s son, Richard Jr., who is a vice president at Churchill and Banks.
Congressman Jim Langevin, who has received $600 from Baccari since 2006, will not return the contribution, according to his spokeswoman. Rhode Island Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio said in a statement he will take a “wait and see approach” before making a decision on whether to return his $150 contribution from Baccari.
A spokesman for Senator Jack Reed, who received $1,750 from Baccari, said a "commensurate donation is being made to charity." A spokesman for Congressman David Cicilline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung confirmed he will donate a $500 Baccari contribution to Special Olympics Rhode Island, according to campaign spokesman Pat Sweeney.
Baccari has long been one of the state’s most well-known developers. His company was recently among three developers vying to purchase parcels of land along the plot of land left behind by the relocation of Route 195, but the commission that oversees the land has not made any final decisions.
The indictments are tied to a 2010 federal probe that sent three North Providence town councilmen – Joseph Burchfield, Raymond Douglas and John Zambarano – to prison for accepting a $50,000 bribe.
According to court documents, the bribe was coordinated by Robert Ciresi, a former attorney who is also now serving time in prison for acting as a middleman in the scheme.
Tim White and Ted Nesi contributed to this report.
This report has been updated.
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