Deputy RI House speaker to admit tax fraud guilt
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The outgoing deputy speaker of the Rhode Island House and a business partner have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and tax fraud for cheating the federal government out of more than $500,000 in tax payments, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Rep. John McCauley Jr., a Democrat who represents Providence, was charged Friday in federal court along with William L'Europa, his partner in their insurance adjuster business. Both indicated in court filings that they plan to plead guilty. The men were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and filing false tax returns.
McCauley is the sixth Rhode Island lawmaker to face criminal charges in the past year.
Prosecutors said McCauley and L'Europa underreported nearly $1.8 million dollars in receipts for tax years 2007 to 2010. They face up to eight years in prison.
McCauley, 54, was first elected in 1990 and is not seeking re-election. He didn’t immediately return a message left at his home. No one answered a phone listing for L'Europa.
Federal agents raided McCauley and L'Europa’s office in November and seized several boxes. They later said the search was part of an investigation into an arson fraud. Louisa Knight later pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges after admitting setting fire to her home and later filing an insurance claim. Authorities said at the time there was no indication that McCauley or L'Europa knew about the fraud.
A spokesman for Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha wouldn’t comment on whether the new charges are related to that investigation.
House Speaker Gordon Fox issued a statement Friday saying that the charges against McCauley had ‘‘nothing to do with his role at the Statehouse’’ and that McCauley has taken responsibility in ‘‘addressing his personal issues.’’
‘‘He has been a long-time friend who always represented his district well,’’ said Fox, D-Providence.
Five other lawmakers have faced criminal charges in the past year.
State Sen. Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, was charged with driving under the influence in April, but the charge was dropped when Ruggerio admitted refusing an alcohol test and agreed to perform community service. His license was suspended for six months.
Rep. Robert Watson, R-East Greenwich, was charged with marijuana possession and DUI in April in Connecticut and was arrested in Rhode Island in January on a charge of marijuana possession. The former House minority leader pleaded not guilty to charges from the first incident and pleaded no-contest to the more recent charge. He is not seeking re-election.
Police arrested Rep. Dan Gordon, R-Portsmouth, in September after learning that he faced charges in Massachusetts that he failed to stop for police and drove with a suspended license stemming from a 2008 traffic stop. Gordon agreed to pay $1,000 to resolve the evasion charge and received probation for other traffic charges. He is not seeking re-election.
Rep. Leo Medina, D-Providence, was charged last month with practicing law without a license. Not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf. He is also accused of pocketing proceeds from a life insurance policy on a friend’s deceased daughter. Medina pleaded not guilty to those charges. He was defeated in this week’s Democratic primary.
In January, prosecutors dismissed a sexual assault case against Rep. John Carnevale, D-Providence, after the accuser died of medical causes. He had pleaded not guilty.