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      Woonsocket employee charged in alleged gambling ring

      A Woonsocket municipal employee pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges in connection with an alleged gambling ring in northern Rhode Island.

      David Ayotte, 53, of North Smithfield, was arraigned in Providence Superior Court on charges of organized criminal gambling, bookmaking and conspiracy.

      Ayotte works in the city's parks and recreation department and has been suspended without pay since his indictment on Aug. 1.

      The Rhode Island State Police and attorney general's office conducted the investigation into the alleged sports-betting ring. State police conducted wiretaps and did other surveillance and arrested multiple suspects in February.

      State officials said evidence they found searching a pawn shop and other locations proved that Ayotte was the leader of the gambling ring.

      Authorities also seized $260,000, seven firearms, betting slips, pool wagering cards and more from his North Smithfield home.

      If convicted, Ayotte faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.