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Extortion case against former RI state senator dropped

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The extortion case against former state Sen. Nicholas Kettle has been dismissed.

Paul DiMaio, Kettle’s attorney, said he received a call on Thursday from R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office informing him prosecutors had decided to drop the case. The decision came less than a week after Kettle rejected a plea deal.

“I can only assume because we had gathered an immense amount of evidence to show their witness was not credible,” DiMaio said in a phone interview. “They realized they couldn’t go forward with this thing.”

DiMaio said Kettle’s legal team presented prosecutors with “three years of communication on Facebook” between Kettle and his accuser.

“There were more than 3,500 Facebook communications between Kettle and him from 2011 right through 2014,” he said.

Kettle was charged with two counts of extortion and blackmail in February 2018, accused of extorting sex from a male page who worked at the State House.

In an email, Kristy dosReis, a spokesperson for Neronha, said “new evidence” prompted the attorney general to drop the case.

“Specifically communications between the victim and the defendant that have been verified by this office – the state is unable to meet its required burden of proof and continue the prosecution of this case,” dosReis said. “Furthermore, the complainant has indicated he would not return to Rhode Island to testify in this matter.”

Kettle was first elected to the Senate in 2010 when he was just 20 years old and was re-elected three times. He resigned days after he was charged.

Earlier this year Kettle pleaded no contest to two counts of video voyeurism in another case where he was accused of secretly taking explicit photos of his then-girlfriend and sending them to someone in New Hampshire.

Eight other counts were dropped as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. He was sentenced to three years of probation.

DiMaio credited Neronha – who inherited the cases from his predecessor, Peter Kilmartin – for making the call to drop the case.

“They looked at this, realized it was improper to proceed with this case, and I give them credit,” DiMaio said.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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