2nd man arrested in charity collection scheme

(Photo: Cranston Police)

CRANSTON, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — Cranston police say a second man has been arrested in connection with what authorities say was charity scam at a church fair.

Police say two men were collecting donations on behalf of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation at the St. Mary’s Feast on July 18. Officials with the foundation say the men were not authorized to collect money for the charity.

Carol Donnelley, a cancer survivor and the organization’s office manager, said the two men told her they wanted to help with fundraising.

“When he left, I said to the executive director ‘something doesn’t feel right,'” she said.

Her gut feeling was spot on. According to Donnelley, she was informed by another survivor about the alleged scammers.

Alan Ponte was arrested at the scene, but a second suspect remained at large.

Police posted a photo of the second suspect on social media and received several tips about his identity.

On Sunday night, Matthew Murphy of South Kingstown turned himself in.

Murphy, 30, was ordered held without bail as a probation violator at his arraignment Monday. It was revealed in court that he was released from jail earlier this month after serving a 90-day sentence.

According to court records, Murphy has a lengthy criminal history.

Ponte was arraigned last Monday.

Donnelley called the crime “pitiful.”

“My concern is they were talking to a lot of people. Saint Mary’s Feast was very busy,” Donnelley said. “The one thing I really want people to know that the foundation and other nonprofits in the state, we survive on the generosity of the community. And we don’t want people to shy away from giving.”

According to court records, Ponte and Murphy collected $214.60 before they were caught.

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