Former State Rep. Palumbo arrested on campaign fund charges

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Former state Rep. Peter Palumbo was arrested by Rhode Island State Police Thursday morning on embezzlement and filing a false document charges.

State Police Lt. Colonel Joe Philbin told Target 12 the charges are related to the Democrat’s campaign fund.

Palumbo was arraigned at Providence District Court and released on $5,000 personal recognizance.

In a statement, the state police said the charges against Palumbo stem from an audit of his campaign account by the R.I. Board of Elections that allegedly “revealed that Mr. Palumbo was not accounting for approximately $59,000 in cash withdrawals from the campaign funds.”

“A further review revealed that Mr. Palumbo withdrew approximately $16,000 from ATMs at seven different casinos around the country over the course of five years,” the statement continued.

Upon leaving court, Palumbo’s attorney Peter Petrarca – also a former state representative – said, “We don’t know what it is. We don’t know what we’re going to do. We haven’t seen the documents. What else can I say?”

Palumbo, 55, served in the Rhode Island House from 1994 until 2014, when he lost his seat to Republican Robert Lancia following a scandal involving beach concession contracts.

The concession case remains under investigation by federal investigators.

Brandon S. Bell, chairman of Rhode Island’s Republican Party, released the following statement about Palumbo’s arrest:

“Another former lawmaker of the Mattiello leadership team has been arrested. Palumbo held leadership positions of two committees under Mattiello: Secretary of House Corporations and Vice Chairman of Environment. When will Mattiello apologize to the citizens of Rhode Island for assembling one of the most unethical leadership teams in
Rhode Island history?”

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau