PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Former State Senator Jamie Doyle made his initial appearance in federal court Tuesday, after signing an agreement last month to plead guilty to nearly three dozen charges tied to a check fraud scheme.
Doyle, 46, who resigned from office earlier this year when he cited issues with alcohol, is charged with 31 counts of bank fraud and one count each of filing a false tax return and failing to file a tax return.
The Pawtucket Democrat is accused of defrauding three banks out of between $250,000 and $550,000 by writing hundreds of checks he knew his account couldn’t cover in what investigators called a “check- kiting” scheme.
The Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office also alleges Doyle failed to report more than $1 million in income to the IRS.
Doyle entered what is expected to be a temporary not guilty plea before Federal Magistrate Lincoln D. Almond.
He did nto say a word afterwards, but his attorney Jeffrey Pine said the former lawmaker will express his remorse for the crime at the appropriate time.
“He is taking responsibility full and fairly for all of his actions and his mistakes and the next court date will be a change of plea to that effect, Pine said.
Doyle signed the agreement to plead guilty to the 33 counts last month, but the date for that appearance before a federal judge has not been set.
“Check-kiting” involves writing checks from an account in one bank and depositing them in a second bank when neither account has sufficient funds to cover the amounts.
The delay created by the collection of money by the first bank is known as the “float” time, which allows an artificial balance to be created. That allows the “kiter” to cover the check from the first bank by depositing money from the initial fraudulent deposit in the second bank.
During a three-year period while Doyle was in office, he allegedly inflated balances in checking accounts at three banks by writing tens of thousands of checks.
Prosecutors said on a single day in February 2016, Doyle deposited 31 worthless checks totaling approximately $300,000 into one bank drawn from a checking account at a different bank.
There were insufficient funds in the accounts to cover the checks.
Despite Doyle serving as a senator while allegedly running the fraud scheme, Pine insisted this is “really not” another case of public corruption.
“It’s not a case of public corruption. It’s a personal matter. Involving his business,” Pine said. “Everybody, in every walk of life makes mistakes.”
Rhode Island’s former attorney general said it was an example of a private citizen committing a crime, not public corruption.
In January, Doyle unexpectedly announced his immediate resignation from the General Assembly, saying he was battling alcoholism.
It is unknown whether or not the federal investigation was underway at that time.
In May of 2016, Doyle was forced to amend his ethics commission filings for failing to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in personal and business debts.
Doyle made the changes after Eyewitness News reported he did not disclosed multiple liens on his home and business, Doyle Respiratory LLC.
Federal investigators allege Doyle Respiratory is connected to the alleged “check-kiting,” as is Doyle’s other business, Doyle Sleep Solutions, LLC.
At the time of Doyle’s ethics commission issues, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello indicated now imprisoned former state Rep. Ray Gallison was under federal investigation due to issues with his personal or business finances.
But Doyle – who was a member of the Senate Finance Committee – argued voters had no reason to be concerned about how his private money woes might impact his public service.
“This may sound cocky, but I’m going to quote Kid Rock right now: ‘You can be cocky, but it’s OK if you can back it up,'” Doyle said.
Court documents indicate the checks in question in the current federal charges were written between 2013 and February 2016, a period that ended about three months before Doyle referenced Kid Rock.
Democrat Sandra Cano beat Republican Nathan Luciano in a special election April 3 for the District 8 seat Doyle vacated.
Doyle is the son of former Pawtucket Mayor James Doyle and was first elected in 2004.