Former mayor hoping for early prison release

A federal prosecutor and the attorney for a convicted former mayor of Central Falls left Providence's federal courthouse Thursday tight-lipped about what happened inside Judge John McConnell Jr.'s chambers.

Former Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau was not in court and his lawyer, Anthony Traini, said he doesn't discuss pending cases with reporters.

The former mayor is halfway through a two-year prison sentence on federal fraud charges for accepting a free furnace from a contractor friend, Mike Bouthillette, who in turn received a lucrative city contract boarding up vacant houses.

Moreau's chance at freedom is based on a decision made over the summer by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The court overturned the bribery convictions of a Puerto Rican senator and a businessman who wined and dined the senator on a trip to Las Vegas. The Boston court said accepting gratuities is not covered under the statute under which the men were convicted. It's the same statute used to convict Moreau.

At Sparky's Restaurant, in between bites of sandwiches and sips of coffee, the conversation turned to Moreau and the possibility of his early release.

"I don't see it as a problem. He's served a year, he's paid restitution, that should be enough," said Lou Kushner.

"It was unfortunate for him and it was unfortunate for the city of Central Falls that things turned out the way they did. But let's try and get this over with and let's try to begin the healing," owner John Chippis said.

Moreau is being held at the ACI in Cranston. It could be seen as one step closer to freedom or a seven-hour car ride back to a federal prison in Maryland.