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Chinese billionaire pleads guilty to straw donor scheme in New York and Rhode Island – The Boston Globe

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Chinese billionaire pleads guilty to straw donor scheme in New York and Rhode Island – The Boston Globe


When asked, an attorney for Adams, Vito Pitta, said: “As the federal government made clear today, the campaign had no knowledge of a straw donor scheme — and no member of the campaign has been charged with or accused of any wrongdoing.”

Qin was previously included on the Forbes list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $1.8 billion from his stake in film and entertainment companies, including the Honk Kong-based SMI Culture. He has been in U.S. custody since his arrest last October on charges of using a fake identification.

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A phone call to his attorney was not immediately returned.

Campaign finance records show Qin, who is a Chinese citizen with a U.S. green card, donated $2,000 to Adams in March of 2021. Under the city’s campaign finance rules, green card-holders can contribute to races and participate in the city’s generous matching funds program, which caps donations at $2,100.

Nine months after he donated to Adams, federal prosecutors say Qin began working “to find individuals to make more than $10,000 in straw donor contributions” to an unnamed New York City candidate.

At least one person donated $1,000 on Qin’s behalf on Dec. 9, according to prosecutors. The following day, Qin spoke with an unnamed co-conspirator, who told him they expected to be able to obtain up to $20,000 in straw donor contributions for the candidate.

Adams, a Democrat, is currently facing a federal investigation for his fundraising practices that prompted the FBI to seize his cell phones last year. Earlier this month, agents raided the homes of one of his top aides, Winnie Greco, as part of an investigation led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.

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An investigation by Manhattan prosecutors into an alleged straw donor scheme over the summer resulted in the arrest of six people, who were accused of seeking to divert public money into Adams’ campaign to gain political favors.

Prosecutors say Qin engaged in similar straw donor schemes to funnel donations to a U.S. representative in New York and a congressional candidate in Rhode Island.

Federal Elections Commission records show Qin donated $2,900 in 2022 to the campaign of Allan Fung, a Republican former mayor who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Rhode Island. Fung didn’t respond to messages seeking comment Monday.

Records also show that a man named Jonathan Chau, who provided Adams’ transition committee with $1,000 on December 9, 2021, gave $5,800 to a committee supporting Fung, and $2,900 to a committee backing Rep. Andrew Garbarino, a Long Island Republican.

Prosecutors said Qin hid his illicit funding efforts from the officials they were intended to benefit, causing them to unknowingly file false campaign reports.

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Chau could not be reached for comment. Garbarino did not respond to an emailed request.

As part of the plea deal, Qin also admitted that he filed a false application for lawful permanent residency status in the U.S. 2019 when he claimed to have never used an alias. In fact, prosecutors said, he was provided the alias “Muk Lam Li,” along with accompanying identification documents, by an official in the Chinese government in 2008.

He used that identity to transfer more than $5 million to a U.S. bank account, spending some of it on a luxury apartment in Manhattan, according to prosecutors.

Qin will give up his right to live in the U.S. and be deported as part of his plea deal, prosecutors said.





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Rhode Island

Rhode Island taxpayers gawk at the $132 million price tag of a new stadium

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Rhode Island taxpayers gawk at the $132 million price tag of a new stadium


Rhode Island taxpayers are feeling sticker shock as they may shell out over $130 million in debt payments for a soccer stadium in Pawtucket. One reporter noted it was similar to the amount the government of Pakistan is charged to borrow money.

Plus, the bids are in for major offshore wind projects that could bring energy and jobs to Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where New Bedford and Salem stand to gain big shares of the money pie.

And a surprise resignation by New Hampshire Congresswoman Annie Kuster has stirred fierce competition for the seat — including a top Biden aide with local roots.

It’s Under the Radar‘s Regional News Roundtable.

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Storm packing strong wind knocks out power to some in RI. Here’s what to expect today.

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Storm packing strong wind knocks out power to some in RI. Here’s what to expect today.



A fast-moving storm is bringing strong wind to Rhode Island, knocking out power for some, cancelling ferries and raising flood concerns

PROVIDENCE – A powerful storm bringing rain and strong wind to Rhode Island has knocked out power for some residents and forced the cancellation of ferries to Block Island.

The heaviest rain is likely later this morning and could include some thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service has posted a wind advisory, effective until 2 p.m., with south winds of 15 to 25 mph gusting up to 50 mph.

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“Gusty winds will blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result,” the advisory says.

As of about 7:35 p.m., some 1,200 Rhode Island Energy customers had lost power.

Check outages here.

With a gale warning for Rhode Island coastal waters and seas of 6 to 11 feet, the Block Island Ferry has canceled all trips.

A coastal flood advisory is in effect until 2 p.m.

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River flood watches are still in effect for the Pawtuxet River at Cranston and the Wood River at Hope Valley as well.

Conditions should begin improving this afternoon, the weather service says.



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Rhode Island Senate Passes Bill to Revise Rhode Island's Criminal Definitions – Newport Buzz

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Rhode Island Senate Passes Bill to Revise Rhode Island's Criminal Definitions – Newport Buzz


In a move aimed at reforming Rhode Island’s criminal justice system, legislation sponsored by Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) to revise the state’s definitions of felonies, misdemeanors, and petty misdemeanors has been approved by the Senate.

The proposed bill, numbered 2024-S 2100, echoes similar legislation previously approved by the Senate during the 2021, 2022, and 2023 sessions. It seeks to address issues within the state’s legal framework by easing pressures on the correctional system, promoting diversion and rehabilitation, and enhancing public safety.

Senator Acosta emphasized the necessity of addressing systemic injustices that disproportionately affect residents of color or those with limited socio-economic status. He clarified that the bill aims to rectify an unintentional overlap between Federal immigration law and Rhode Island General Laws concerning misdemeanors. Concerns raised over the past three years primarily revolved around potential unintended consequences, with opponents suggesting the bill might shield perpetrators of serious crimes from severe immigration repercussions. Senator Acosta, however, asserted after extensive research that such concerns were unfounded. He stressed that updating outdated definitions would mitigate persistent judicial injustices, save taxpayer money, and alleviate pressures on the correctional system, ultimately leading to meaningful positive impacts on individuals striving to reintegrate into society.

The proposed legislation seeks to redefine felonies, misdemeanors, and petty misdemeanors. A felony would be defined as any criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for over one year, while a misdemeanor would encompass offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding six months but not exceeding 364 days, or solely by a fine exceeding $1,000. Petty misdemeanors would cover offenses punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six months or solely by a fine between $500 and $1,000.

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Senator Acosta clarified that the redefinition of misdemeanors would specifically prevent non-deportation eligible offenses from escalating into aggravated felonies under immigration law. He emphasized that a 364-day suspended sentence would prevent a misdemeanor from becoming an aggravated felony. However, he underscored that certain crimes, such as domestic violence, remain deportable offenses regardless of the sentence. For instance, while a legal permanent resident receiving probation for domestic assault may still face deportation, a one-year suspended sentence for the same offense would escalate it to an aggravated felony, leaving no recourse for deportation relief.

The legislation will now proceed to the House for consideration, where Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) has introduced a companion bill numbered 2024-H 7527.

 

 

 


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