Attorney for ex-Rep. Gallison asks court for leniency in corruption case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The attorney for former state Rep. Ray Gallison has filed a memorandum in federal court requesting almost half the potential prison time recommended by the government for the Bristol resident’s nine-count guilty plea.

Attorney Anthony Traini asked the court to impose a “non-Guideline” sentence of 36 months, about two years shy of the recommended guideline range of 57 to 65 months.

Gallison has pleaded guilty to nine criminal charges following a lengthy grand-jury investigation into years of financial misdeeds. The charges against Gallison involved taking $678,000 from the estate of a man named Ray Medley who had identified the once-powerful Democrat as a “good friend” in his will.

Gallson also admitted taking almost $9,000 from a disabled individual’s trust fund, as well as misusing of funds from his taxpayer-funded nonprofit, Alternative Educational Programming (AEP).

In the document filed Tuesday, Traini asked the court to consider in Gallison’s favor his cooperation with government investigators, his various medical conditions, the “extraordinary efforts made toward restitution,” and his positive impact on his community.

“Mr. Gallison is not an evil person,” Traini wrote.

Traini also tried to distance the Gallison case from “the likes of Gordon Fox, John Celona, Gerard Martineau, and any number of others convicted” in public corruption cases, arguing that although Gallison was a state representative when he committed the crimes, he did not commit them in his capacity as an elected official.

“A non-public corruption case involving a public official should be treated the same as other cases involving similar offense committed by non-public figure,” Traini wrote.

Traini added that “the fall from grace, the humiliation, embarrassment and loss of dignity…are themselves punishment.”

That opinion was contrary to a statement made in January by Peter Neronha, who was the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney at the time of the investigation and guilty plea.

“There are those who have said, and will likely say again, that criminal conduct like that alleged against former Rep. Gallison should cause Rhode Islanders less concern, because such criminal conduct occurred in connection with his private life and not in connection with his work as a state representative,” Neronha said. “I completely reject that way of thinking.”

Gallison’s sentencing is scheduled for Friday.

Gallison was one of three former House lawmakers prosecuted in January, following the indictment of former Rep. John Carnevale for perjury relating to his residency and the arrest of former Rep. Peter Palumbo for filing false documents related to his campaign account.

Gallison, first elected in 2000, resigned from the General Assembly in May 2016, and according to the document filed Tuesday, he began cooperating with investigators and started paying restitution at that time.

Before his sudden resignation, Gallison was serving as chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee.

Gallison was previously fined $6,000 by the Rhode Island Ethics Commission for failing to disclose his employment with Alternative Education Programming (AEP), a taxpayer-funded nonprofit he ran.

AEP received $2.3 million from state taxpayers between 2003 and 2016, but prosecutors say the money was not all being used for its intended purpose. Investigators say AEP reported spending $78,000 to assist 47 students in the 2012-13 academic year but actually spent barely $3,000 to assist two students, while nearly $65,000 went to Gallison and an associate “for no work undertaken on AEP’s behalf.”

Walt Buteau (wbuteau@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tim White and Ted Nesi contributed to this story