Former Rhode Island House speaker to be sentenced for taking bribe

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 11, 2015 7:06 AM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Reuters) - A former speaker of Rhode Island's House of Representatives who pleaded guilty in March to federal charges including accepting a $52,500 bribe is due to be sentenced on Thursday.

Democrat Gordon Fox, who was one of the most powerful elected officials in the state, spent two decades in the House before he was charged with accepting a bribe to help the owners of a Providence bar obtain a new liquor license and taking $108,000 from his own campaign accounts to pay personal expenses.

In addition to the bribery charge, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

Federal prosecutors in Providence are seeking a three-year prison sentence, a term that they said reflected Fox's willingness to waive the five-year statute of limitations on the bribery incident, which took place in 2008 while he was also serving as vice chairman of Providence's licensing board.

"The defendant's actions reflect a sense of entitlement to a standard of living well in excess of the one his profession would have afforded him," federal prosecutors said in a filing asking U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi to impose the three-year sentence.

Fox, 53, said in a court filing that he agreed the sentence would be a fair one.

"Mr. Fox committed financial crimes because his financial life was not in order," his attorneys said in a court filing. "He acknowledges that there are no excuses for his criminal behavior."

Fox, the state's first openly gay House speaker, resigned the leadership position he had held since 2010 after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided his home and office in March 2014, and he did not stand for re-election to the House last year.

(Reporting by John Larrabee; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Eric Beech)