CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s spokeswoman has quickly backed off comments he made Tuesday saying he expects his embattled former House Finance Committee chairman, Ray Gallison, will be charged with embezzling money.
“He ultimately ended up getting in trouble over an estate, and I think the charge is ultimately going to be embezzlement from an estate in Massachusetts,” Mattiello, D-Cranston, told reporters during a news conference where he outlined tax cuts he plans to seek next year.
Mattiello acknowledged, however, that he had not received the information about Gallison’s legal predicament “from official sources.”
A short time later Mattiello’s spokeswoman, Patti Doyle, said the speaker may have been confusing the fact that Gallison was only licensed to practice law in Massachusetts with the location of an estate he may have mishandled. She also couldn’t say whether Mattiello actually expects Gallison to be charged with embezzlement.
“He has no information about what he’s seen in the case other than what he’s seen in the media and tried to follow,” she said. “I think he’s making an assumption, but he has no firm information.”
Gallison, a Bristol Democrat, abruptly resigned from his House seat in May after Mattiello confronted him about rumors of a law enforcement probe into his activities. It quickly emerged that a taxpayer-funded nonprofit Gallison ran had serious issues, and the FBI seized nearly $1 million from accounts he controlled.
Gallison’s attorney, Anthony Traini, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mattiello’s assertion.
Law-enforcement officials have remained tight-lipped about the status of the Gallison inquiry, which is being led by federal investigators.
Gallison isn’t the only member of Mattiello’s Democratic leadership team who’s faced negative headlines in recent months. State Rep. John Carnevale, vice-chairman of House Finance, dropped his bid for re-election after a Target 12 investigation led to him losing his voter registration in Providence.
Tim White contributed to this report.