I-Team: Pleau's prison time could cost RI taxpayers $3.1M

Jason Pleau, who pleaded guilty to murdering David Main in 2010, was sentenced to life in prison. He will serve that sentence in a federal facility.

But the NBC 10 I-Team has learned that Pleau is serving time at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston. In fact he will be there until October of 2028, at a cost of more than $3 million to Rhode Island taxpayers, according to prison officials.

According to a prison official, when Pleau was arrested for murdering Main in 2010, he was on probation from a state sentence of 18 years on a robbery conviction. He served a portion of that sentence and then was placed on probation.

After being arrested for the Main killing but before he pleaded guilty, the state moved to violate Pleau's probation status. A Superior Court judge did violate Pleau's probation status and sentenced him to serve his entire 18 year sentence for the robbery conviction.

But Pleau became the subject of an intense legal battle between Gov. Lincoln Chafee and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Rhode Island.

The U.S. Attorney Office claimed that since Pleau faced federal murder charges, he should be placed in federal custody. But Chafee feared federal authorities would ask for the death penalty for Pleau, something the governor is opposed to.

Chafee refused to turn Pleau over to federal authorities, and challenged the U.S. Attorney's Office in federal court.

Pleau remained in state custody until a federal court ruled against Chafee. Pleau was placed in federal custody and in exchange for his guilty plea in the Main killing, federal authorities did not ask for the death penalty and instead recommended life in prison.

Last October, U.S. District Court Judge William Smith did sentence Pleau to life in prison, to be served at a federal prison.

But because a Rhode Island state judge first sentenced Pleau on a probation violation, he will have to serve his state sentence before he reports to a federal prison to begin his life sentence for murdering Main, according to prison officials.

According to figures from the ACI, Pleau, who is being held at the High Security Prison, is costing taxpayers $200,215 per year. He received a three-year "time served" credit for the time he was in custody before he pleaded guilty to the Main killing. That means Pleau will have to serve the remaining 15 years.

If he remains in the High Security prison in Cranston for those 15 years, his incarceration will cost Rhode Island taxpayers, $3,003,225, according to figures on the Department of Corrections website on the cost of housing inmates per year.

Chafee told NBC 10 during a taping of "10 News Conference" on Thursday that he'll look into seeing if he can get Pleau transferred to federal custody.

"I'll certainly look into getting him over the federal custody," Chafee said.

But the governor added he didn't think there was anything he could do.