PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Rhode Island State Rep. Daniel Gordon has been in and out of Massachusetts jail cells since 1999 and has been charged more than a dozen times over the past 18 years, according to records obtained by the Target 12 Investigators.
Gordon served nearly six months over a five-year period at the Bristol County House of Correction in North Dartmouth, Mass., according to records from the Bristol County Sheriff's office.
Gordon, 42, of Portsmouth, served four months in jail after being convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in 1999, records reveal. He was back in 2003 for a one-month stay on another assault and battery charge and again in 2004 after being charged with attempted murder, the sheriff's office said. That year he was also held on an outstanding warrant for a "larceny of a motor vehicle" charge issued by police in Falmouth, Mass.
Gordon has been charged 18 times since 1993, according to criminal records from the Mass. Office of Public Safety and Security. He was charged six times with assault and battery, twice with a gun and once with a pool cue. Gordon was charged with possession of marijuana in 1996 and convicted of operating under the influence in 1993.
Records show Gordon was convicted of the 1999 assault and battery charge but the attempted murder charge was dismissed.
Target 12 obtained the police record from the attempted murder charge. According to Fall River police, Gordon allegedly strangled his girlfriend, leaving red marks around her throat. The police reports said the girlfriend claimed "he tried to kill me" by putting his hand on her mouth and nose. It's unclear why the charges were dropped.
Gordon – a freshman Republican on Smith Hill – was arrested Wednesday and charged with driving with a suspended license, according to the Rhode Island Judiciary's website. State police said they held him after they learned he had an outstanding warrant out of Massachusetts for "eluding an officer." Both charges are misdemeanors.
Gordon was in court Monday and later made his first public comments since his arrest using Twitter. "If it's on TV, (or any media) it MUST be true, right?" @RepDanGordon wrote around 4:40 p.m. "Not so much. Must be tryouts for TMZ…FULL story soon."
Gordon was elected as a state representative last November, defeating Democrat George Alzaibak by just 47 votes. He succeeded fellow Republican Rep. John Loughlin, who retired to mount a losing bid for Congress against David Cicilline.
Loughlin did not recruit Gordon to succeed him and did not endorse his candidacy, spokesman Mike Napolitano told Target 12. Loughlin "did not know him," Napolitano said. "I would consider them people who knew each other through the [Republican] Party. They were not close friends."
Despite the legislator's lengthy criminal history, John Marion – the head of good-government group Common Cause Rhode Island – said Gordon did not violate any laws by failing to disclose the information to the Rhode Island Board of Elections.
"[The state] set a standard that if you were convicted of a felony or served more than six months in jail for a misdemeanor in the last three years you would have to disclose it," said Marion. "He didn't violate that."
But Marion said it may be time to consider requiring candidates to reveal their criminal histories.
"They do have to disclose a lot about their financial background and their financial holdings," Marion said. "I do think we need to think about how much they have to disclose on their criminal background."
Gordon works as an independent contractor and served in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to his official biography. He owns Alliance Building Contractors LLC, which bids on federal projects set aside for companies started by disabled veterans. He listed no other assets or sources of income on his most recent financial disclosure form.
In a rare move, Gordon was evicted from the Republican caucus earlier this month. He made headlines in March when he criticized Tiverton High School for allowing the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance student group.
Gordon's arrest is another legal black eye for the Rhode Island General Assembly. Fellow Republican Rep. Robert Watson was arrested in April, charged by Connecticut police with driving under the influence and possession of marijuana.
Earlier this month, State Rep. Leo Medina, D-Providence, was arrested and charged with misappropriation of funds for allegedly pocketing the funds from someone else's life insurance policy.
WPRI.com reporter Ted Nesi contributed to this report.
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