Man accused in Cranston charity scheme found not guilty

(Photo: Cranston Police)

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A man accused of posing as a worker for a local breast cancer charity was found not guilty Friday, Eyewitness News has learned.

Matthew Murphy was cleared of two misdemeanor charges – but he says people still think the worst of him.

In an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News, Murphy said he just wants to clear his name now that he has been acquitted.

“It was definitely a relief,” he said. “I did not know it was a scam.”

In July, Murphy was arrested by Cranston police, accused of taking money from people who thought they were donating to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.

According to police, Murphy and two other men set up a table at the Saint Mary’s Feast to collect money that was never given to the organization.

“I’m truly, deeply sorry this has happened and that I was caught up in something that I thought was [a] charitable foundation, a charitable act that I was doing,” he said. “And I would just like to apologize to everybody.”

Murphy said the two other men, Alan Ponte and Sheldon Luther, convinced him to donate his time to the cause.

“They had a professional banner done, they had a professional table, everything looked legit,” he said. “I didn’t second guess it because I thought it was legit.”

Ponte has already pleaded no contest to charges stemming from the crime and Luther is still facing charges.

According to police reports, Ponte collected $214 before he was caught.

Murphy said he lost his job when he was arrested.

“I can’t even get a job because people are saying bad things about me. And it’s really hard and I’d just like everybody to know that it was a total misunderstanding and I’m not that kind of person,” Murphy explained. “I’m a kind-hearted person and the people who actually know me know this.”

The office manager for the Gloria Gemma Foundation said the organization has no ill will toward Murphy and wishes him well.

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