Mollis to seek max fine against Corso in 38 Studios probe

Michael Corso, right, the Providence attorney who helped put together the 38 Studios deal, speaks outside his Providence law office in May 2014.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Following another administrative hearing concerning possible lobbying violations by Providence attorney Michael Corso, the Secretary of State’s office announced it was ending further hearings.

“We are not going to waste any more taxpayer resources,” Secretary of State Ralph Mollis said in a statement. “Mr. Corso has chosen not to appear at our hearings, so we are moving forward and seeking a maximum fine for not filing lobbying reports.”

Corso was once again not present for the hearing. Since it is not a criminal hearing, hearing officer Louis DeSimone told Target 12 earlier this summer Corso is not required to be there.

Corso is being investigated for possibly violating Rhode Island’s lobbying laws while he was involved with 38 Studios, Curt Schilling’s failed video game company. The state is trying to determine whether Corso should have registered as a lobbyist.

Tuesday’s hearing continued legal wrangling over exhibits to be presented.

“This is the rankest and lowest form of hearsay imaginable,” said Anthony Traini, Corso’s attorney.

In the end, DeSimone accepted all of the evidence submitted by the Secretary of State’s Office, including a contract, obtained by Target 12 from a 38 Studios insider, in which the video game company pledged to pay Corso $300,000 for interacting with government officials.

Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis launched the probe after a Target 12 investigation that revealed no one from 38 Studios or hired by the company ever registered to lobby Rhode Island government when the controversial deal was being put together in 2010.

Anyone found to have violated lobbying rules can be fined $2,000 for legislative lobbying and $1,000 for executive-branch lobbying.

Rhode Island taxpayers remain on the hook for $90 million from the state-backed loan — which 38 Studios never paid back after going bankrupt.

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