PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — State Rep. Joseph Almeida has been sentenced to one year probation and fined $1,000 for misappropriating campaign contributions for personal use.
Almeida, 57, turned himself in to Rhode Island State Police in February, accused of making cash withdrawals and writing checks payable to cash or himself from his campaign account. In total, he was charged with misappropriating $6,122, as well as failing to provide proper documentation for the expenditures.
The Providence Democrat pleaded no contest in court Tuesday.
“Your honor, it’s one of the few times I ever raised money. I acknowledge the fact that my books may have been shabby but I still care about the south side. I’m a politician in front of a camera, in front of a mic, and I truly care about my community — so I’m just here to get this over with and get on with my life,” Almeida said in court.
State police said the investigation was launched after the R.I. Board of Elections referred an audit of his campaign finance reports to the attorney general’s office.
Last March, Target 12 first reported that Board of Elections records showed Almeida did not provide explanations for $3,908 in checks that officials say were written to Almeida himself or “cash.” Records also showed Almeida had $8,195 in unreported campaign donations and $9,729 in unreported expenditures.
He resigned from his position as Deputy Majority Whip following his arrest.
Almeida did not respond to a request from Target 12 to all state lawmakers asking them to provide the December bank statements for their campaign accounts. The report found the majority of lawmakers refused to release that information, despite a push to close loopholes in campaign finance laws.
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Almeida won re-election to his House District 12 seat in 2014, defeating Democrat Anthony Roberson in the primary and independent Luis Vargas in the general election. He has represented the South Providence neighborhood for a total of 14 years over two separate stints in the House since he first won office in 1998.
Almeida’s predecessor in District 12, former state Rep. Leo Medina, was sentenced to prison last September for pocketing insurance money owed to someone else. Medina defeated Almeida in the 2010 Democratic primary, then lost to him in a rematch in 2012.WPRI.com reporter Dan McGowan contributed to this report.