Developer in R.I. corruption case requests leniency

Imondi admitted to role in bribes

By Ian MacDougall
Associated Press / April 16, 2011

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PROVIDENCE — A developer who pleaded guilty in February to facilitating a bribe payment to three former North Providence town councilmen has asked a federal judge for leniency when he is sentenced next month.

Edward Imondi’s lawyer filed the request, seeking a reduced sentence on the basis that Imondi was only briefly involved in the payment of one bribe that he had little hand in planning.

Imondi, 74, has admitted to helping facilitate one of several bribes solicited by Joseph Burchfield, Raymond Douglas III, and John Zambarano, who have also pleaded guilty. According to court documents, the councilmen received a $21,000 bribe from Kevin O’Sullivan, a developer hoping to convert a defunct North Providence mill to housing, in exchange for voting to approve a zoning change required for the project to go forward.

Yesterday, O’Sullivan corroborated the suggestion that Imondi was not involved in planning the bribe payment. He told the Associated Press the councilmen approached Imondi to get to him after learning that he was seeking a zoning change for the mill project. Imondi and O’Sullivan had worked together on earlier development projects, and O’Sullivan said he asked Imondi to help him after the councilmen, whom Imondi knew but he did not, demanded a bribe.

“He should definitely get leniency,’’ said O’Sullivan, who was not charged in the case. “He was a victim of this whole scheme.’’

Federal prosecutors have called Imondi a middleman. His lawyer, Paul J. DiMaio, has objected to that designation, referring to Imondi as “an agent for the person who was giving the bribe.’’

Imondi was paid for delivering the cash bribe to the councilmen. However, DiMaio said that there was no prior agreement that Imondi would be paid and that the councilmen simply left some of the money in the envelope containing the bribe and returned it to Imondi.

“Although my intention was not for personal gain, I do accept responsibility for aiding in this criminal act,’’ Imondi wrote in an undated, handwritten letter to the judge, which was filed with the court this week. “I got involved when my business partner asked for my help because he was told he would have a problem getting his property zoned.’’

Imondi, who pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, bribery, and extortion, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 16. He faces up to a five-year prison term on the conspiracy charge. The maximum sentences for bribery and extortion are 10 years and 20 years in prison, respectively.