Former Central Falls, R.I., Mayor Charles D. Moreau, 49, of Lincoln, R.I, and longtime friend, business associate and political supporter Michael G. Bouthillette, 49, of Lincoln, R.I., were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Providence today for participating in a corruption scheme in which the former mayor accepted goods and services from Mr. Bouthillette as a reward for having directed and provided board-up work on more than 160 properties in Central Falls between 2007 and 2009, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell sentenced Moreau to 24 months in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, 300 hours of community service, and a fine of $25,000. Bouthillette was sentenced to 3 years of probation, including 2,000 hours of community service to the residents of Central Falls – the equivalent of one year of fulltime employment without pay - and a fine of $5,000. The court also ordered Bouthillette to provide the Rhode Island Foundation with a payment of $160,000 to establish an endowment of charitable funds for the residents of Central Falls for public safety, housing and education programs. In addition, Bouthillette is prohibited from collecting more than $275,000 in liens placed on properties for board-up work he performed for which he yet to be paid. The court ordered that any remaining funds to be collected by Bouthillette are to be provided to the City of Central Falls. On November 19, 2012, Moreau admitted to the court that beginning in September 2007, he ordered that all vacated homes in Central Falls be boarded up by his longtime friend and political supporter, Michael Bouthillette. Bouthillette admitted to the court that as a reward, on three occasions, he corruptly provided Moreau with things of value. Moreau and Bouthillette each pled guilty to one count of Federal Program Fraud. An investigation conducted by the United States Attorney's Office, the Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General and the Rhode Island State Police revealed that beginning in September 2007, Moreau circumvented the State requirement that such work go out for competitive bidding by declaring that each vacant home presented as an "emergency" necessitating an immediate board-up. From approximately September 2007 to July 2009, Bouthillette boarded up at least 167 homes.
The investigation revealed that Bouthillette submitted an invoice to the City of Central Falls for a board-up, at which time a lien was placed on the subject property for the amount of the invoice. As foreclosed properties were sold and the liens discharged, Central Falls would pay Bouthillette. The scheme allowed Bouthillette to make unreasonable profits amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Bouthillette admitted to the court that as reward to the former mayor for providing him with the board-up work, on three occasions he gave Moreau things of value. Bouthillette admitted that in March 2009, he assisted Moreau in obtaining a furnace for Moreau's Central Falls residence for which Bouthillette admitted that he contributed at least a portion of the purchase price; Bouthillette admitted that, from March to November of 2009, he provided numerous renovations and repairs to a Lincoln residence owned by Moreau which Moreau never paid for; and Bouthillette admitted to the court that in April 2010, he provided flood remediation work at Moreau's Lincoln home which Moreau never paid for. Moreau admitted to the court that he accepted each of these gratuities from Bouthillette.
The cases were prosecuted in federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly and Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General J. Patrick Youngs.