Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Ex-aide to Rhode Island House Speaker rejects plea deal in money laundering case

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A former campaign aide to Democratic Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello rejected a plea deal to a money laundering charge on Wednesday and instead will take the case to trial.

Jeffrey Britt, 52, has pleaded not guilty to a felony count of money laundering and a misdemeanor campaign finance charge.

In a remote hearing, Britt rejected a deal offered by prosecutors that would have him serve 18 months of a five-year prison sentence.

“He wishes to decline that offer and go to trial,” said Britt’s lawyer, Robert Corrente, who called the offer “silly.”

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The jury-waived trial in front of a judge is tentatively due to start in September or October, Corrente said.

Corrente has said that Britt is being made a “fall guy” for Mattiello’s reelection campaign.

Authorities allege Britt funded a $1,000 contribution made through a third party to defeated Republican primary candidate Shawna Lawton and the money ended up helping pay for a mailer endorsing Mattiello instead of her party’s nominee in 2016.

Authorities allege Britt met with Lawton before the mailer was sent out, suggesting the speaker would support her anti-vaccination priorities in exchange for her backing.

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If convicted, Britt faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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