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October 15, 2007
Update: Lincoln crash kills girl, 15
LINCOLN -- The police are investigating a car accident this afternoon that killed a 15-year-old female passenger.
The girl, whose name has not been disclosed, was in the car heading east on Wilbur Road and struck a tree in the area of the intersection with Longmeadow Road.
An unidentified male was driving the car. A total of three people were in the car, according to the police.
The police believe the car might have been traveling at a high rate of speed. The car was a four-door Chevrolet Cavalier, its hood charred. The crash was in a residential, wooded area of town.
The call came in reporting the accident shortly after 2:30 p.m.
-- Journal staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with reports from Journal staff writer John Hill
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:50 PM
Tonight: Bands by any name, be it mild or menacing
Some of the musicians playing in clubs tonight have names like Milo Greene. Others have names like 3 Inches of Blood.
3 Inches of Blood, Divine Heresy, Cutpurse and Acariya play rock at The Living Room, 23 Rathbone St., Providence. Call 521-5200. 9 p.m. $12. All ages.
Mariee Sioux, Aaron Ross, Allysen Callery, Lee Bob Watson and Milo Greene play rock and folk at AS220, 115 Empire St., Providence. Call 831-9327. 8 p.m. $7. All ages.
Mark Taber plays blues at The Hi-Hat, 3 Davol Square, Providence. Call 453-6500. 7 to 11 p.m.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:40 PM
Rhode Island gets environmental-theme license plate
And the latest addition to one of Rhode Islanders' seemingly favorite pastimes is ... the osprey license plate.
If the lore is true, an Ocean State resident takes keen interest in procuring a low-numbered license plate. But a new license plate unveiled this afternoon aims for those who like to wear their environmental conscience on their cars.
The plate bears four blue waves from the right moving to the center while the left side is taken up by a large image of an osprey sitting on a nest. The plate bears three words "conservation through education."
The Audubon Society of Rhode Island and Save the Bay jointly unveiled the new plate today. Twenty dollars from each plate bought will go to environmental education. The fee for a plate is $40, according to the Web site of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:50 PM
State to get nearly $600,000 in Oxycontin settlement
PROVIDENCE -- Rhode Island will receive nearly $600,000 for its Medicaid program from drug maker Purdue Pharma L.P. as part of a nationwide settlement over the marketing of the painkiller OxyContin.
Attorney General Patrick Lynch says the state's Medicaid Fraud Unit will get $589,310.
In July, Purdue Pharma and three current and former executives were fined $634.5 million by a federal judge in Virginia for misleading the public about the painkiller's addiction risks.
OxyContin -- the brand name for oxycodone -- has been blamed for hundreds of deaths across the country in recent years.
Lynch says making false claims to promote a drug can have deadly consequences.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:25 PM
Update: 2 Providence firefighters slightly hurt
Journal photo / Steve Szydlowski
Smoke comes out of the house in the West End. The fire was brought under control quickly.
PROVIDENCE -- A fire of unknown origin damaged a three-family tenement house at 31 Burnett St. in the West End this afternoon, Fire Department Battalion Chief James Mirza reported.
While combating the blaze, two firefighters suffered minor injuries such as a sprain or a strain, he said.
Firefighters were dispatched to the scene shortly before 1:30 p.m., and the fire was pronounced under control at 2 p.m. No tenants were home at the time.
Mirza said the blaze began on the third floor, at the rear, and that the cause is under investigation. Due to the dry windy weather, firefighters initially were concerned about protecting an adjacent house, but Mirza said it turned out that no particular precautions were necessary to prevent the fire from spreading.
Flames did significant damage to the third floor and there was smoke and water damage on the lower floors of the house, which for now is not habitable, according to Mirza.
-- Journal staff writer Gregory Smith
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:40 PM
Central falls man pleads guilty in firearms/drug case
PROVIDENCE -- Oluwabusayo Ogundare, 21, most recently of Central Falls, today pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing crack cocaine, U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente's office announced.
In May, the Providence police seized a handgun and several crack cocaine packages from Ogundare at a gas station on Elmwood Avenue, a news release says.
Ogundare entered the plea before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith in U.S. District Court, Providence. Ogundare is being held pending sentencing, which Judge Smith scheduled for Jan. 18. Maximum penalty for the two offenses is 12 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine.
Prosecutor Peter F. Neronha said at the plea hearing that the government could show that on May 19 at about 2:45 a.m. police officers went to an Elmwood Avenue gas station for a 911 call about a man with a gun.
Officers saw Ogundare, who answered the description from the 911 call, getting into a car, and ordered him out of the car. They seized a 0.22-caliber pistol from a holster in his waistband and seized from him seven bags of crack cocaine.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:50 PM
Mobster's son accused of stealing ex-girlfriend's dog
JOHNSTON -- The son of a well-known mob associate was arrested Sunday after his ex-girlfriend accused him of breaking into her apartment and stealing her dog, the police said today.
Michael A. Gomes, the 44-year-old son of the late Richard Gomes, was charged with domestic breaking and entering as well as assault following an encounter with the woman outside her Greenville Avenue home, according to Deputy Police Chief Gary W. Maddocks.
Maddocks said the woman was almost home when she saw Gomes with her dog in his Volvo. She also saw a piece of artwork belonging to her, he said.
One of the woman’s friends stopped Gomes by standing in front of his car, Maddocks said. An argument ensued, and Gomes threw his cell phone at the woman, he said.
Police later went to Gomes’s home at 57 Walnut St., Apartment 1, and arrested him, Maddocks said.
Maddocks identified Gomes as the son of the late Richard Gomes, an organized crime figure who was friends with the late John Gotti, once the most famous mob boss in America.
The elder Gomes was released from the ACI in August 2005 after serving nearly 20 years for shooting two men outside an Olneyville wiener shop,
He died of natural causes in his North Providence last year.
-- Journal staff writer Mark Reynolds
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:49 PM
Special veto session of Assembly called
PROVIDENCE -- Lawmakers have been summoned back to the State House for a one-day veto override session on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
Senate leaders were unavailable for immediate comment, but a spokesman for House Speaker William J. Murphy confirmed reports that letters notifying the lawmakers started going out today.
While the lawmakers are “likely’’ to vote to override Governor Carcieri’s veto of a high-profile bill banning forced overtime for nurses at hospitals, spokesman Larry Berman said action on other bills remains possible, including a Senate-passed bill to move Rhode Island’s presidential primary up from March 4 to Feb. 5.
Once the lawmakers reconvene, the Senate is expected to hold confirmation hearings for William Guglietta, the former state prosecutor, attorney general candidate and State House lawyer whom Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams recently selected for the new chief magistrate’s job lawmakers created this year in the state Traffic Tribunal.
Interest groups have been keeping up a vocal campaign to win over-ride votes on an array of other issues, ranging from domestic-partner benefits to the “pre-registration ’’ of 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. At a State House press conference recently, others urged the lawmakers to use the occasion to reverse a cost-cutting decision they adopted at Carcieri’s urging: The treatment of 17-year-old offenders as adults for purposes of criminal sentencing.
Berman said it has not yet been decided what bills will be taken up at the special session.
-- Katherine Gregg of the Journal State House Bureau
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:43 PM
Bullets found in vending machines; school searched
TIVERTON -- Two bullets were found in a pair of cafeteria vending machines at Tiverton Middle School today, prompting the police and school employees to impose an unprecendented lockdown of the building while searching for ammunition and weapons.
“There were two rounds of what appeared to be rifle ammunition. I’m not sure of the caliber,” said Deputy Chief Nicholas Maltais. “They were live rounds. They had not been fired.”
Supt. William Rearick said that a student found the first bullet in the part of the machine where items are dispensed. After he brought it to the attention of a teacher, a school administrator notified school resource officer Kenneth Cabral. Rearick said that a second bullet was found when administrators began searching the other vending machines.
After Cabral informed his supervisor of the situation, the police ordered that the building be locked down, Rearick said. Students were sent to their classrooms behind locked doors and the entrance doors to the building were secured, said Rearick.
“Obviously, our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of the students and the school employees so we took it very seriously and did a thorough search of the building,” Maltais said.
Officers arrived at the school around 11:30 a.m. Police and school administrators searched lockers and backpacks inside the lockers, Rearick said. Backpacks inside classrooms were searched by teachers, he said.
“No firearms or weapons of any type were found,” said Maltais, adding, “There were no threats made in association with this. We did not receive information that there was going to be harm to anyone.”
The police remained at the school until about 2 p.m.
When asked why someone would have placed the bullets in the vending machine, Rearick replied, “I couldn’t fathom.”
Maltais said it might have been a prank.
-- Journal staff writer Richard Salit
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:38 PM
Update: Carcieri roughs out personnel cuts
PROVIDENCE -- Months after vowing to cut 1,000 jobs, Governor Carcieri has announced the outlines of a plan to lay off 414 state employees, trim the state’s temporary employment rolls by another 115 workers and wipe 487 empty jobs off the state’s books.
The personnel cuts are a central piece of the governor’s plan to avert a projected $200 million deficit in the state budget year that begins on July 1.
Carcieri did not detail which state workers face job cuts. In his presentation this afternoon, he did say every department would be affected.
"Out of respect for our employees who will be impacted, I will not be sharing more details today regarding the specific positions. The particulars as to the individual people and positions affected will be released as they have been notified," Carcieri said in his speech.
Before the speech, the governor’s staff would say only that the cuts would be focused on “back office” workers.
For example, 115 positions would be cut among the five state health and human services departments, including jobs in human resources, information technology and finance, the governor’s Chief of Staff Brian Stern told reporters Friday.
The executive branch plans to begin notifying those contract employees affected on Nov. 1. State employees will be notified Nov. 15.
As for the 414 state employee positions to be eliminated, Carcieri said, "Positions have been identified in every department."
He also noted that not all the targeted jobs are union jobs.
Carcieri was expected to largely ignore the other elements of his deficit-reduction plan today: $50 million in cuts to social service programs and another $50 million in cuts to the health benefits of those employees who survive the layoffs.
Stern said that those cuts would be reflected in the governor’s budget proposal scheduled for release in February and throughout negotiations with unions whose contracts expire in the coming year.
Today’s press conference marks the attempt of a governor, with plummeting poll numbers, to take control of the Smith Hill spending debate months before lawmakers return to the State House and try to rehabilitate his image along the way.
Extra: Final version of the slides of the budget presentation, as released by the governor's office
-- Steve Peoples and Katherine Gregg of the Journal State House Bureau and projo.com staff
After a September public-opinion survey by Brown University found his job approval rating had plunged since last January from 59 percent to 44 percent, Carcieri suggested the numbers were a reflection of voter concern “about our financial status.’’
He said people seeing teachers on strike, unions lobbing preemptive strikes against his vow to cut the state work force by 1,000, and headline after headline about the people affected by the legislature’s adoption of his proposals to lop thousands off the state’s child-care rolls leave people “feeling as though the state isn’t running itself well because of the budget.’’
Meanwhile, labor laws are expected to complicate the governor’s staff reduction plans.
Carcieri will have no problem eliminating 115 contract employees, who have no union protections. But laying off 414 state employees would trigger seniority provisions outlined in workers’ contracts.
The executive branch can move to eliminate specific jobs, but the employees in those jobs generally have the right to move to vacant positions, or new jobs elsewhere in state government by “bumping” other workers from their jobs.
The legal challenges were illustrated when former Governor Sundlun issued layoff notices to more than 500 employees in 1992, trying to avert a huge deficit. Two months after notices went out, more than half of the targeted group still had jobs.
Governor Carcieri’s office acknowledges challenges, but Stern said that bumping rules have been relaxed since the early 1990s. Employees generally are allowed only three “bumps,” he said.
Labor unions have criticized the governor’s plan to cut 1,000 jobs since it was first announced last June for ignoring the additional cost to the state in expected social welfare costs.
The layoffs could result in $7.5 million in new costs to taxpayers for the unemployment and health-care benefits for displaced workers, according to Dan Majcher, supervisor of fiscal services for the Department of Administration.
“This number will vary based on many factors and again is a worst case estimate and assumes everyone would be eligible for full benefits,” he said this morning in an e-mail to The Journal.
Stern acknowledged Friday that the governor may be using a “conservative” estimate for the projected 2008-09 budget deficit. While his Budget Officer Rosemary Gallogly puts the projection at $211.3 million, the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council estimated the deficit at $306.5 million in June.
Since then, Gallogly said, assumptions have changed, caseload projections have dropped and lawmakers, in an unprecedented move, placed a virtual freeze on local school aid this year.
As an example, the outdated deficit-projection assumed new state employee contracts would provide the workers with a 2-percent across-the-board raise next year, according to Gallogly. Knocking that one assumption out cut the projected deficit by $26.8 million. Freezing school aid this year lowered the starting point for next year by another $19 million. And so on.
-- Steve Peoples and Katherine Gregg of the Journal State House Bureau and projo.com staff
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:26 PM
Seal, wounded by gunshot, to be returned to ocean
The adult male harbor seal found stranded at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Conn., in July after suffering a gunshot wound is slated to be released at Blue Shutters Town Beach in Charlestown tomorrow at 9 a.m.
The seal, believed to be 20 to 25 years old and weighing 212 lbs., had gotten the OK to be released on Sept. 26, after two months' treatment by Mystic Aquarium veterinary staff.
But the seal developed a problem with its right eye, the only one that works because of the gunshot wound.
“Because the animal has vision in only one eye, the veterinary staff at Mystic Aquarium was reluctant to have the animal released until a temporary condition called corneal edema was fully resolved,” Lawrence Dunn, staff veterinarian at Mystic Aquarium, said in a news release today.
The seal will never have use of its left eye because of the wound. But it will still be able to hunt and survive in the wild despite its handicap, the aquarium said.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:03 PM
Police ask for help after fatal Seekonk accident
The Seekonk police are asking for the public's help in finding the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a 38-year-old woman who was walking with her daughter yesterday.
Maria Aguiar of 155 Chestnut St. was struck and killed by a “white SUV-type” vehicle while walking down her street at about 6:22 p.m. with her daughter, who was riding a bicycle, according to Seekonk police.
The 10-year-old was not injured, police say, but she did see the accident.
The driver of the vehicle did not stop, but drove west down Chestnut Street.
The Seekonk police are investigating with the Massachusetts State Police. They are looking for a white SUV with damage to the passenger side front and possibly to the windshield.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to call Seekonk police at (508)336-8123
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 1:54 PM
Trial begins for woman accused of killing daughter
Jury selection began this morning in the murder trial of a former Warwick woman whose 19-month old daughter died in late 2002 from head and trauma injuries.
The trial of Kimberly Mawson, 37, in Superior Court, Warwick, is expected to continue for a couple of weeks, according to Associate Justice Edwin J. Gale, who is presiding. Jury selection is expected to take all day.
Mawson was arrested in May 2005 in Connecticut after a grand jury handed up a secret indictment charging her with the death of her daughter, Jade. Her trial begins today in Superior Court, Warwick.
Jade Mawson died of “injuries of the head and torso due to blunt-force trauma,” according to the medical examiner.
Mawson, who had moved to Winchester, Conn., after the death of her baby, waived her right to an extradition hearing.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Talia Buford.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:50 AM
Gang member, 21, admits conspiracy, gun crimes
PROVIDENCE -- A member of the Laos Pride street gang pleaded guilty today to federal charges that could send him to prison for the rest of life.
Nheat Nhim, 21, of 329 Webster Ave., who was was escorted into U.S. District Court in handcuffs and leg shackles, entered guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to commit robbery, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Judge William E. Smith set sentencing for Jan. 4 at 2 p.m.
The maximum penalty for the charges is life imprisonment and $750,000 in fines.
Last April, Nhim and three other gang members were arrested at gunpoint in an undercover sting operation. The operation, which was supervised by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, targeted the Laos Pride street gang that has been active in Providence and Cranston.
-- Journal staff writer W. Zachary Malinowski
An undercover ATF agent, posing as a drug dealer from Boston, recruited Nhim and three other Laotian gang members to burst into the home of a fictitious drug dealer and grab 6 kilograms of cocaine. They were arrested on April 26 in a parking lot in Cranston. The gang members were armed with shotguns and handguns, the authorities said.
Nhim is the first of the foursome to plead guilty. Assistant U. S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha said that Vixay Phommarath, 20, unknown address; and Khek Choummalaithong, 28, of 74 Pekin St., Providence; also have signed plea agreements and they are expected to formally plead to the charges in the days ahead.
The fourth defendant, Souvanh Keosouvanh, 27, of 673 Atwells Ave., Providence, has pleaded not guilty. The authorities have called him the alleged leader of the gang.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:09 AM
Gas prices down another penny
Gasoline prices in Rhode Island trickled down another penny this week, according to AAA Southern New England.
The average price for regular, unleaded gasoline is $2.679 per gallon at the self-service pump, according to AAA's weekly survey.
The average price also dropped a penny last week.
That's the lowest it has been since April 2, AAA said.
Rhode Island's average is eight cents below the national average, according to AAA.
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:41 AM
License plate with environmental angle to be unveiled
Rhode Islanders' affinity for license plates of the low-numbered variety has been documented. But befitting a place called the Ocean State, Save the Bay announced today an "environmental education license plate" is on the way.
As to what it will look like, we'll have to wait until this afternoon. A ceremony unveiling the plate will be this afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club, 1 Moeller Place, Pawtucket.
Senate Majority Leader Teresa Paiva Weed is slated to speak at the ceremony/news conference and other officials are expected to attend.
Your Turn: What would you like to see on the Save The Bay license plate?
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 10:03 AM
Update: Accident cleared
An accident on Interstate 95 south near Exit 25 has been cleared up.
The Transportation Management Center has is reporting the morning pile-up -- near Exit 25, Branch Avenue -- has been moved from the road and all lanes have been reopened.
For up-to-date traffic information, visit the TMC Web site, or check out the slightly-delayed traffic cameras.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 9:32 AM
Patrolman accused of rape set for court conference today
A 14-year police veteran accused of raping a 19-year-old at a police substation last March is scheduled to appear in court today.
Marcus Huffman, a city police patrolman, pleaded not guilty to a charge of first degree sexual assault in August. He was suspended without pay pending the resolution of the case.
Prosecutors say Huffman brought the alleged victim to his patrol car after she was turned away from a nightclub because she appeared to be intoxicated.
Surveillance cameras later show Huffman leaving the substation, on Gordon Avenue in South Providence, shortly before the woman leaves the same building, according to prosecutors.
Special Assistant Attorney General Erik B. Wallin also told Judge Daniel A. Procaccini that Huffman’s semen was found on the alleged victim’s boxer shorts.
Huffman’s lawyer, Raymond J. Angell, said his client “vehemently contests” the charge. Huffman is scheduled for a pretrial conference in Superior Court, Providence.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 9:23 AM
Traffic Alert: Accident on 95S near Exit 25
PROVIDENCE -- An accident on Route 95 south near Exit 25 has traffic tied up.
State police are working on clearing vehicles from the road. There is no information right now on how serious the accident was or if there were any injuries.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 8:47 AM
Bryant lacrosse coach suing ex-employer Duke
SMITHFIELD -- Bryant University lacrosse coach Mike Pressler is suing his former employer, Duke University.
Pressler resigned from Duke last year amid allegations that three of his players raped a stripper. The players were later cleared of the false charges.
Pressler and Duke reached a financial settlement this year. But Pressler's suit alleges that Duke broke the terms of the settlement when a university official made disparaging remarks about him.
The suit asks a North Carolina court to void the settlement and hold a trial on Pressler's claim of wrongful termination.
A Duke official says the school is disappointed that Pressler is trying to undo his agreement with an unfounded claim against the school.
Two weeks ago, three of the wrongly accused former players filed suit against former prosecutor Mike Nifong and the city of Durham.
Reade Seligmann, one of the falsely accused lacrosse players, transferred to Brown University to play lacrosse for the Bears.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 8:25 AM
Carcieri to announce job cuts today
PROVIDENCE -- Governor Carcieri this afternoon will outline his plan to cut the state's workforce to rein in a projected $211-million budget deficit.
He will speak at 2 p.m. in the State Room at the State House, according to an advisory from his office.
Carcieri has said his aim is to cut $200-plus million in state spending and 1,000 state jobs.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:17 AM
Body found in Foxborough street
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Police are investigating the death of a young man whose body was found lying in a Foxborough street.
Police say a passing motorist discovered the body at about 1 a.m. on Route 106 near an Interstate 95 underpass.
Authorities have not determined how the unidentified man died. Foxborough police set up a crime scene perimeter and contacted the State Police and Norfolk District Attorney's office for assistance.
Traffic on Route 106 - also known as Green Street - was being detoured in both directions while investigators gathered evidence at the scene.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:02 AM
Sunny and pleasant after a chilly start
Mostly sunny today, with the National Weather Service forecasting a high near 61 degrees.
Clouds should roll in this evening when the temperature should drop to 43.
Although today should turn pleasant, early risers were greeted by chilly temperatures.
In Richmond this morning, the temperature at 6:45 a.m. just 32 degrees. Still, one teen was seen heading to a bus stop in short sleeves.
The clear skies made for a beautiful sunrise, with a pale blue background streaked with peach.
More sunny skies tomorrow with a high temperature of about 62.
For more weather and regular updates, see projo.com/weather.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:01 AM
Today's front page
Today's front page features a photograph of quarterback Tom Brady, who led the Patriots to a 48-27 win over the Dallas Cowboys yesterday in Texas.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM