Recalled Councilman Jackson turns down plea deal offer from attorney general

Councilman Kevin Jackson stands next to his lawyer, Artin Coloian.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The first politician in city history to be recalled from office returned to Providence Superior Court Friday, and turned down a plea agreement that included prison time and restitution in a procedure known as a Frye Hearing.

Kevin Jackson, 59, pleaded not guilty in August of 2106 to three felonies, including embezzlement and unlawful appropriation over $1,000.

The former powerful council majority leader entered the same plea to a pair of misdemeanors for allegedly violating campaign contribution reporting requirements and filing a false document with a public official.

Prosecutors allege Jackson took more than $125,000 from the Providence Cobras youth track-and-field team and used $13,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses. He was arrested by R.I. State Police in May 2016.

The maximum, cumulative sentence for the charges would be 62 years in prison and just over $138,000 in restitution.

Frye Hearings allow the prosecution to put their last and best plea agreement on the record.

Jackson was offered a 10-year sentence with three to serve and he would have to pay the $138,000 in restitution in exchange for a guilty plea.

“Are you knowingly and voluntarily rejecting the state’s offer at this time?” Judge Joseph Montalbano asked Jackson.

“I am, your honor,” Jackson replied.

Montalbano also advised Jackson that the state’s offer may not be available in the future. To that, Jackson said, “I understand that, your honor.”

Neither Jackson nor his attorney commented after the brief hearing. The prosecution didn’t comment either.

Jackson founded the Cobras, an organization that was given more than $67,000 in taxpayer-funded city grants between 2005 and 2015.

The Providence Democrat represented Ward 3 for 22 years until he was recalled in May by a landslide, 11-1 vote ratio.

Jackson’s trial is scheduled to begin in April and would last about two weeks, according to the prosecution.

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