Former North Providence Town Councilmen, Joseph S. Burchfield, Raymond L. Douglas III and John A. Zambarano Have Been Indicted on Extortion and Bribery Charges

PROVIDENCE, RI—Three former North Providence town councilmen were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on extortion and bribery charges. U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced the indictment of Joseph S. Burchfield, Raymond L. Douglas III and John A. Zambarano. It is alleged the councilmen, while serving on the town council in February 2009, accepted a $25,000 bribe in return for favorable votes on a zoning change for a retail development project.

Burchfield, 42, Douglas, 42, and Zambarano, 47, all residents of North Providence, were arrested May 6 by FBI agents. The defendants made initial appearances in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge David L. Martin and were released on $50,000 unsecured bond. An arraignment date has not yet been scheduled.

According to affidavits on file with the U.S. District Court, the defendants voted in favor of amending the Town’s Comprehensive Plan to re-zone a six-acre parcel of land from Commercial Professional and Residential General to Commercial General use in exchange for a $25,000 cash payment from the developer. The developer sought a zoning change to allow for the construction of a supermarket on Plympton Street near Mineral Spring Avenue.

U.S. Attorney Neronha noted, “Today’s indictment is simply the next step in this ongoing criminal matter. However, I reiterate what I said on the day these defendants were arrested that anyone with knowledge related to the conduct alleged in the affidavits would do well to contact the FBI.”

The matter continues to be investigated by the FBI, which conducted the initial investigation with the assistance of Rhode Island State Police, Providence Police, DEA, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Terrence P. Donnelly.