I-Team: Reason for State House raid remains sealed

Gordon Fox

State and federal law enforcement sources remained tight-lipped Monday about the focus of an investigation that toppled Gordon Fox as speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

The series of events moved fast late last week as investigators with the Rhode Island State Police, the FBI and the IRS raided Fox's State House office and his home on Providence's East Side. They carried boxes of evidence on the way out.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that they're looking specifically for him as a target, but it certainly means that he may have information that can assist them in their investigation," attorney Mark Dana told the NBC 10 I-Team.

Dana said search warrants for private homes are the most highly scrutinized.

A federal judge has to sign off on the warrant and investigators, he said, had to provide some very specific information to get it.

"It must have been looked at closely here, and there must have been a compelling reason for the government to go into his home to seek these documents," Dana said.

The court documents connected to the investigation are sealed and that means anything related to the search warrants or affidavits, and there's no timetable on when they could be made public.

"When you request a judge to seal the warrant and the affidavit, it means they're still investigating," Dana said.

Fox has not been charged in the investigation.

Fox has received two ethics fines over the past 10 years. He paid $10,000 in 2004 for voting on a bill that eventually gave his law firm lottery work. And in January, Fox agreed to pay a $1,500 fine for failing to report more than $40,000 in income he made while closing loans as a lawyer for the Providence Economic Development Partnership.

It's unclear if the federal probe is connected to the PEDP. The I-Team investigated the agency's loan programs last summer and found about $3 million in outstanding debt. Roughly one-third of loans were more than a year past due. Ada's Creations on Broad Street was still on the hook for $269,000.

The agency and the loan program have gone through major overhauls.