PROVIDENCE — Former Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau, who headed up a political machine that ruled that tiny, poverty ridden community for nearly a decade, pled guilty Monday to corruptly accepting free work on two homes he owns from a longtime friend and political ally who was in turn awarded a lucrative deal to board up the many foreclosed homes that pockmark nearly every street in the city.
Moreau and his friend, contractor Michael Bouthillette, each pled guilty to one count of federal program fraud in U.S. District Court. They both face a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to three years supervised release and fines of up to $250,000. Judge John McConnell set Feb. 5, 2013 as their sentencing date.
Outside the courthouse after entering his guilty plea, Moreau told reporters, “People make mistakes in life, I made a mistake and I’m going to pay for it. That’s it.”
Moreau apologized “to my constituency, people who put their faith in me” as well as his family and friends, adding that he is “deeply remorseful.” He expressed hope that Central Falls “will come out of the bankruptcy prosperous and become the vibrant city it’s always been.”
Prosecutors say that between September, 2007 and July, 2009, Moreau and Bouthillette engaged in a scheme where, under “emergency” orders issued by Moreau, Bouthillette boarded up at least 167 foreclosed or abandoned homes in the city without having to go through a bidding process. Each home to be boarded was treated as an emergency.
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