‘Innocent until proven guilty’: DMV administrator to keep working amid massage parlor investigation

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee and Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos held their weekly briefing on various issues impacting the state Tuesday.

Coronavirus-specific briefings are no longer scheduled, but will happen on an as-needed basis.

“We are continuing our vaccination efforts,” McKee said during the briefing, noting the state is using pop-up sites and door-to-door advocating to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

Last week, six massage parlors in Cranston were raided and shuttered as part of an ongoing human-trafficking investigation.

“I have serious concerns about the allegations of human trafficking right here in the state of Rhode Island, in particular, in that facility in Cranston,” McKee said. “It’s behavior you’re just not going to put up with and you’re going to put every effort into ensuring that anyone that was involved in that scenario and that activity is going to be held accountable.”

According to McKee a separate but related investigation into DMV Administrator Walter “Bud” Craddock is underway after it was discovered that he owned one of the buildings that was raided.

“We shouldn’t make rash judgments,” McKee said. “I’ve said at this microphone several times, ‘you’re innocent until proven guilty,’ but we are taking it serious and we are looking at all the possibilities that revolve around that situation.”

For the time being, McKee said Craddock will continue to hold his position at the DMV.

“At the moment, he will continue to work and we will get the results as quickly as we can,” McKee added.

The governor clarified that it is not currently a criminal investigation, but it could become one depending on the initial findings.

McKee also spoke about the Joint Commission threatening to revoke Eleanor Slater Hospital’s accreditation.

He said that report should be made public in the next 24 hours, after he’s able to confirm with the national agency that it can be released.

“This is a preliminary report, and it’s an update on the facilities,” he said. “These were similar recommendations that were made back in 2017.”

The commission gave the state 23 days from when the report was released on Friday to resolve some of the issues, according to McKee, who says they are already meeting to come up with a plan.

“We feel as though we will meet that timeline,” he said.

The governor’s spokesperson Matt Sheaff said McKee has assigned Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones and recently appointed Director Richard Charest of the R.I. Department of Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospital to address “the many problems” identified in the preliminary report.

McKee also announced that the public bathrooms at the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center and the Pawtucket Transit Center reopened, while the ones at Kennedy Plaza will reopen on Wednesday.

Project Weber/RENEW called on RIPTA to reopen the restrooms earlier this month, saying travelers need access to basic sanitation.

Additionally, Rhode Island leaders met last week to highlight that R.I. Housing funding is still available to assist renters with both rent and utility assistance.

“I am very concerned about the pace of those dollars going out and the ability of the R.I. Housing to get those dollars out, so we will be meeting every week,” McKee said Tuesday.

Next week, the governor said there will be an announcement regarding broadband through the R.I. Office of Housing and Community Development for nonprofit organizations, public housing authorities, faith-based organizations and more access to funding.

The pre-kindergarten lottery is available now through July 6 for eligible 4-year-olds. McKee says there are more than 23,000 sports in 18 communities.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Rhode Island Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults.

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