CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee has directed the state police to investigate whether R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles administrator Walter “Bud” Craddock had any knowledge or involvement in an alleged sex-for-pay operation busted at one of his rental properties, Target 12 has learned.
Last week Cranston police raided six properties as part of a sweeping investigation into suspected prostitution operations across the city. The properties included 1732 Broad St., which is owned by Craddock through his real estate holding company, LUC Realty Holdings LLC.
McKee now wants to take a closer look, expressing “grave concerns” over the allegations of human trafficking, Target 12 has confirmed.
“The buying and selling of human beings is a horrific and despicable practice, and we must do everything we can to protect victims and put a stop to it,” McKee spokesperson Alana O’Hare said in a statement. “This morning, the governor directed the Rhode Island State Police to ascertain all relevant facts and investigate whether the administrator committed any wrongdoing whatsoever related to this situation. The governor is fully committed to ensuring all resources are utilized to obtain all the facts in this disturbing case.”
Craddock, who previously served 26 years as a Cranston police officer, has denied knowledge of anything nefarious happening at the property, which he’s owned and rented to the same tenants since 2016. Police raided the building for the same reasons in 2017.
“I personally had never gotten any complaints, otherwise this would have been rectified a long time ago,” Craddock told Target 12 last week. “If I was aware of the things that were alleged to be going on there, the lease would have been terminated.”
Patti Doyle, an outside spokesperson for Craddock, reiterated Monday the administrator didn’t know about any illegal operation, adding that he welcomed the investigation.
“Bud Craddock looks forward to an enhanced investigation by the State Police as it will demonstrate emphatically that he knew nothing about alleged illegal activities at a rental apartment he owns,” Doyle said in a statement.
Craddock makes $152,000 per year as DMV administrator, a job he’s held since 2015. Prior to joining the DMV, Craddock served as a member of the Cranston Police Department for more than two decades, retiring as chief in 2002.
The state database of business licenses shows LUC Realty is listed at a Cranston home owned by Craddock and his wife, Lynne Urbani-Craddock, who serves as policy director for the R.I. House of Representatives. Urbani-Craddock also earns an annual salary of $152,000 in the House, according to the state’s payroll database.
House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi on Monday defended Urbani-Craddock’s ties to the property, arguing her business as a landlord has nothing to do with her work with the state.
“This is a private matter and is unrelated to the excellent work that Lynne Urbani performs as a dedicated public servant on behalf of the people of the state,” Shekarchi said in a statement Monday.
Earlier Monday, Doyle shared an eviction letter she said has been sent to the tenant, Zhang Jing Hui. The letter demands that the property be vacated on or before July 15. The tenant had been paying in cash each month, Doyle confirmed.
“It has been brought to our attention by the Cranston Police Department that certain illegal activities are allegedly being conducted on the Leased Premise,” Craddock wrote in the letter, dated June 21. “It is also the understanding that the alleged activities have been going on for quite some time despite being brought to your attention by the Cranston Police as far back as 2017. As your landlord, we take these allegations VERY seriously and will not tolerate any unlawful or inappropriate activity on its Premises.”
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram