Ex-state senator loses appeal to RI Supreme Court

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s highest court has denied the appeal of a former state senator convicted of stealing money from clients of his law firm.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court announced Thursday it was upholding former Sen. Patrick McDonald’s embezzlement conviction as well as a lower court ruling denying him a new trial.

In January 2014, a jury found McDonald guilty of stealing more than $160,000 while handling clients’ real estate closings. He received a 20-year sentence, with four-and-a-half years to serve at the ACI.

Prosecutors said McDonald used the money to pay for personal expenses, including his mortgage, dinners, and hotel stays. McDonald apologized to the victims, but blamed his former paralegal and mistress Kimberly Gostomski for the crimes. Gostomski received a 10-year suspended sentence as co-conspirator.

The Supreme Court’s opinion says McDonald again argued in his appeal that Gostomski was directly responsible. McDonald claimed the evidence used at his trial proved only that he was negligent in supervising her and monitoring his accounts. The justices disagreed, siding with the Superior Court judge’s ruling that the evidence against McDonald himself was overwhelming.

McDonald, a Democrat, represented South Kingstown and Narragansett in the state Senate from 1996 through 2002.