Rhode Island AG charges former state representative-elect with felony embezzlement; brings new campaign finance violations
(STL.News) – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that his Office has charged by Criminal Information former House District 68 representative-elect Laufton Ascencao with embezzlement of funds from the Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club, as well as failing to report campaign expenditures on campaign finance filings and failing to appoint a treasurer to certify his campaign filings in 2017 and 2018.
The Criminal Information, filed in Providence County Superior Court on April 16, alleges that Ascencao, without authorization, diverted $16,379 from the checking account of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club while he was serving as treasurer of that organization. Ascencao used the money to pay for expenses during his 2018 campaign for state representative of House District 68, which includes portions of Bristol and Warren.
The Information further alleges four new campaign finance violations. Three alleged violations are based on Ascencao’s failure to report expenditures on his campaign finance filing with the Rhode Island Board of Elections, which total approximately $3,357 and consist of payments to his campaign manager and a purchase of campaign palm cards. By not reporting these expenditures, Ascencao intended to hide the fact that the funds came from the checking account of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The Information also alleges that Ascencao failed to appoint a campaign treasurer, as is required by state law, other than himself to certify his campaign finance filings associated with his 2018 campaign.
Ascencao is scheduled to be arraigned in Providence County Superior Court on July 15, 2020.
The case was investigated by the Office of Attorney General and the Rhode Island State Police. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Morin of the Office’s Public Integrity Unit.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.