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NBC 10 I-Team: Rumford man to be sentenced for embezzling $550K from non-profit

Charles Denno, former finance director at a Providence non-profit, will be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Providence on embezzlement charges.

The finance director of a city-run non-profit organization in Providence, who has been charged with embezzling from the agency over a six-year period, has asked the court to impose a sentence outside federal guidelines, according to documents obtained by the NBC 10 I-Team.

Charles Denno entered a plea agreement in January and is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.

Denno, who admits to have stolen at least $550,000 from the Providence Plan for his own personal use, is asking U.S. District Court Judge William Smith to consider his “diminished capacity” from a gambling disorder in Smith’s sentencing decision. Denno is asking for a sentence of less than three years and outside the guideline range determined by U.S. Probation to be between 33 and 41 months.

As finance director of the Providence Plan, a nonprofit supported with federal, state and private funds to support educational programs for Rhode Island kids and adults, Denno was responsible for overseeing millions.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island, Denno used his authority, to cause the Department of Education and the Bloomberg Family Foundation to deposit funds into the nonprofit’s account then diverted the money for his own use. More than $4 million dollars was awarded to the Providence Plan annually.

Denno, 67, first began diverted funds from the nonprofit’s account to another account under the name “CMG Enterprises” in October 2010 and continued doing so until July 15, 2016, court records show.

On June 30, 2016, for example, Denno used his authority to request the Dept. of Education to deposit $58,000 into a Providence Plan account. The funds were then converted for his own use, according to information from Assistant U.S. Attorneys John McAdams and Sandra Hebert.

Those funds were used to support his gambling addiction, his attorney Kevin Bristow argues in a memorandum of law filed with the court.

“Financially, the defendant’s gambling disorder has left him devoid of assets and heavily in debt,” Bristow writes. “Mr. Denno exhausted all of his personal resources, created more than $25,000 in personal credit card debt,” Bristow writes.

Bristow goes on to say that Denno, who has been married for 42 years and has no criminal history, withdrew and gambled away all his retirement plan funds and still owes $10,000 to Twin River Casino.

In a letter of support filed with the court, Andrew Bramson, who worked with Denno at The Providence Plan for eight years, asks Smith to consider Denno’s gambling disorder and the community work he’s done over the years when making his decision.

“I have learned how deeply haunted he is by the power of this addiction, the length of time his scheme went undetected and the ripple effect his actions have had,” Bramson wrote. “Chuck has admitted his guilt, he is a first-time offender, and I believe he deserves the opportunity to return to society as soon as possible.”

The FBI, U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, and the Rhode Island State Police Gaming Enforcement Unit investigated the case.

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