Providence Councilman Jackson pleads not guilty to embezzlement, campaign finance violations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence City Councilman Kevin Jackson pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he embezzled more than $127,000 from the youth sports organization he co-founded in 1978.

Appearing for before R.I. Superior Court Judge Maureen Keough, Jackson also pleaded not guilty to two counts of unlawful appropriation, as well as violating Rhode Island’s campaign contribution and expenditure reporting requirements and filing a false document with a public official.

Jackson, a 58-year-old Democrat who has represented Ward 3 on the East Side since 1995, was arrested by Rhode Island State Police outside of City Hall on May 11 and a grand jury indicted the councilman on the same charges last month.

Prosecutors allege Jackson embezzled $127,153 from the Providence Cobras youth track-and-field team, an organization that received more than $67,000 in taxpayer-funded city donations between 2005 and 2015. Investigators claim Jackson used the organization’s money to fund campaign-related expenses, including an advertisement in a local magazine during his 2014 reelection bid. He is also accused of using the Cobras’ money on apparel, car repairs and monthly Netflix charges.

Jackson is also accused of using $12,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses, including apparel, health care, cash withdrawals and paying a fine to the R.I. Board of Elections. Jackson has a long history of failing to file campaign reports.

Following the May arrest, Jackson resigned from his role as majority leader of the council, but he remains a rank-and-file member. He has regularly attended council meetings over the last two months and voted to support the new city budget in June.

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Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

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