Providence Councilman Kevin Jackson accused of embezzlement

Providence Ward 3 Councilman Kevin Jackson appears in Providence District Court, Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

Providence Ward 3 Councilman Kevin Jackson was arrested Wednesday.

He's had outstanding campaign finance violations for years, and now state police say he was using campaign money for personal expenses. And more egregiously, prosecutors say he embezzled money from the track and field team he founded.

Maj. Joseph Philbin, detective commander with the Rhode Island State Police said the track team is "called the Providence Cobras. It's funded by contributions and grants given to them. He's the only one with a debit card. He basically misappropriated or embezzled more than $127,000 for personal use."

The potential penalties for embezzlement are a fine of three times the money embezzled and 20 years in prison.

Defense attorney Artie Coloian told reporters about Jackson, "He's a selfless public official and community activist who has always put the needs and concerns of his constituents and athletes before his own."

State police say otherwise.

The charges against Jackson include using $12,074.06 of campaign contributions for personal expenses, like clothes, health care expenses, and cash withdrawals. The $127,153 allegedly stolen from the Providence Cobras was also for personal expenses and cash withdrawals.

The state police investigation began after an audit of Jackson's campaign finance report by the Board of Elections was turned over to the state attorney general. The information was then relayed to the state police Financial Crimes Unit, which found, in the words of Philbin, "numerous campaign-related expenses that were deducted from the bank account of the Providence Cobras, a youth track and field organization founded by Mr. Jackson and heavily funded by grants awarded by the City of Providence."

Jackson appeared Wednesday in District Court and was ordered to face a judge in Superior Court on July 15.

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