In response to felony charges being dropped against Ward 7 Councilman Charles “C.J.” Donovan for driving under the influence of alcohol while carrying a gun on June 25, Amy Kempe, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Attorney General, said the plea disposition was not out of the ordinary.
“A plea agreement in a case like this is not uncommon, nor is it unusual,” she said, noting that the case was handled the same way it would have been for anyone else involved in this situation. “Plea agreements happen all the time. Ninety percent of the cases that come through this office are disposed of through plea agreements. Often times, it depends on the circumstances.”
In terms of what circumstances led to the plea agreement in Donovan’s case, Kempe said, “I’m not going to get into the specifics other than based on the facts of the case and the intent of the statute, the office felt comfortable with the plea agreement.”
When asked how many gun charges that are similar to this case have been disposed of, Kempe said coming up with a number would take “serious” research.
She went on to say that once someone is charged in District Court by a local police department, the police conclude their investigation and bring it to the AG’s office.
From there, it can go through either the Grand Jury if it is a capital offense, or information charging if it is a non-capital offense. The police then sit down with prosecutors.
“That’s when the case can be moved forward into Superior Court,” she said. “It can plead out at any point in the process if that’s what a defendant chooses to do. During the information charging stage, cases or charges can be amended, added [or] dismissed based on the totality of the facts and the intention of the statutes that are being charged.”
As for claims of corruption made by Car Tax Revolt leader Rob Cote, who charged that the AG, in conjunction with the Warwick Police Department (WPD), covered up the case, Kempe said his accusations are “outlandish.” She defended the AG’s Office, as well as the WPD.
“It’s just outrageous and irresponsible to lay such claim on the Warwick Police Department or this office,” said Kempe. “The Warwick Police Department does an excellent job.”
Kempe said the AG’s Office failed to respond in time for the article that ran in the Aug. 13 Warwick Beacon because the AG employee a Beacon reporter attempted to contact for comment on Friday was on vacation. Also, the fact that Aug. 12 was Victory Day, a holiday in Rhode Island, prolonged the response.
Donovan, 43, pled guilty to DUI charges and is responsible for paying a $100 fine, along with $680 in court costs. He lost his license for three months and is accountable for 10 hours of community service, plus completing a DUI education course.