Ex-lawmaker sentenced to serve 3 years in prison

Former state represenative Leo Medina

A former Rhode Island state representative is back in prison and a judge says that's where he will be spending the next several years.

Leo Medina, 50, was sentenced Thursday in Superior Court by Justice Netti C. Vogel to 20 years in prison. He must serve three years of that sentence and the remainder will be suspended with a full 20 years of probation.

"It's troubling. It's troubling to me," Vogel said of Medina's crime.

Vogel told the court she might have considered a lesser sentence for Medina, who served one term from 2010 to 2012, if he had stolen money to fuel a drug addiction. But that wasn't the case.

"Greed is somewhat different," Vogel said.

In June, a jury found Medina guilty of unlawful appropriation of funds.

During trial, the state showed that Medina took more than $28,000 of a life insurance settlement from Alejandro Nico, an undocumented immigrant with whom he'd been friends for years.

Nico approached Medina in 2009 to ask for help in collecting on his daughter's life insurance policy after her death.

"His immigration status alone made him a vulnerable victim to financial abuse. Considering all of that, the court must conclude that this was a heinous crime," Vogel said.

The prosecutor said Medina spent all the money he took from Nico on himself and his business, using it all within a span of eight days toward payroll, electronics and even putting up a fence.

"Between June 22 and June 30, 2010, this defendant spent down over $28,000 belonging to Mr. Nico by his own self," the prosecutor said.

After Medina is released from prison, he will have to pay back at least $500 a month until what he took has been fully repaid to Alejandro Nico.

Medina's attorney asked for a week or two so Medina could tie up loose ends in his personal life and at work, but the judge denied the request, saying Medina had plenty of time while he was out on bail. He was handcuffed in the courtroom and immediately remanded to the Adult Correctional Institutions.