A former mayor of a financially troubled Rhode Island city who’s imprisoned in Maryland on a corruption charge has been ordered back to his state by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge John McConnell doesn’t explain in an order he signed on Tuesday why he wants U.S. marshals to take former Central Falls mayor Charles Moreau to a Providence courtroom on Jan. 29.
Moreau is less than halfway through a two-year sentence he was given for pleading guilty in the corruption case in September 2012. He admitted he accepted a furnace and home renovations from a businessman who received a lucrative city contract, and he was sentenced by the judge in February 2013.
Moreau’s lawyer, Anthony Traini, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on Thursday. Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office wouldn’t comment.
But a decision from an appeals court in a similar but unrelated case last year found that the charge to which Moreau pleaded guilty, corruptly accepting a gratuity by an official receiving federal funds, is not a crime.
The decision, by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was issued on June 26, 2013, in a case involving a lawmaker in Puerto Rico. It found that it is not a crime for a government official to accept gratuities.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said that a gratuity is different from a bribe because it is not a quid pro quo meant to influence the official but rather is a reward for a future or past act.
Other appeals courts have said accepting gratuities is a crime, but the U.S. District Court in Providence, where Moreau was charged and pleaded guilty, is in the 1st Circuit.