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Google Pays $230M To R.I. Agencies

April 03, 2012  | 

The Rhode Island State Police plan to replace an aging fleet with its share of Google funds. Photo: Rhode Island DPS
The Rhode Island State Police plan to replace an aging fleet with its share of Google funds. Photo: Rhode Island DPS

Rhode Island law enforcement agencies plan to set up a statewide police training center, build a new headquarters, and replace aging vehicle fleets with a $230 million asset forfeiture windfall from Google.

The funds come from a $500 million settlement paid by the Internet advertising giant to avoid criminal prosecution for serving ads from Canadian companies offering illegal pharmaceuticals to U.S. buyers. Rhode Island law enforcement officers and troopers participated in a two-year joint task force investigation led by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to build the case against Google.

The settlement, which was announced in 2011, means Google won't face prosecution for enabling illegal sales of Canadian pharmaceuticals with its AdWords advertising platform.

The recipients of the funds include the Rhode Island State Police ($45 million), East Providence Police Department ($60 million), North Providence Police Department ($60 million), Rhode Island Attorney General's Office ($60 million), and the Rhode Island National Guard ($5 million).

Funds were distributed based on the number of hours each agency gave to an investigation that required the review of more than seven million documents and numerous interviews between 2009 and 2011.

"A lot of it was documents examined and people interviewed," East Providence Police Chief Joseph Tavares told POLICE Magazine. "Seven million documents required dedicated, tedious, and precise review to build a case."

Agencies plan to use the funds on several statewide initiatives, including combining police training now spread over three academies, officials said. The state also plans to acquire a bomb-squad vehicle and equipment, as well as a mobile surveillance vehicle for cybercrime enforcement. Funds will also bolster agency accreditation, communications initiatives, and community outreach.

Spending plans have been submitted to the Department of Justice's asset forfeiture unit for review, said Lisa Holley, chief legal counsel of the Rhode Island Department of Public Safety.

"We've proposed what we would use the funding for," Holley said. "The whole idea of spending this money is to get as much impact out of it for the state."

From left to right, U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha; East Providence Police Chief Joseph Tavares; EPPD Det. Lt. Barry Ramer; and EPPD Sgt. Michael Jones.
From left to right, U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha; East Providence Police Chief Joseph Tavares; EPPD Det. Lt. Barry Ramer; and EPPD Sgt. Michael Jones.

In addition to the $7.8 million set aside for the statewide initiatives, each agency has developed its own spending plan for a sum that's often greater than the individual agency's budget.

Rhode Island State Police commanders, who manage a $30 million operating budget and 238 sworn troopers, will share their $45 million among seven DPS agencies. The bulk of the funds will likely go toward adding prisoner-transport vehicles and replacing an aging DPS fleet of about 200 patrol and administrative vehicles.

The funds bring a massive windfall to the two municipal police departments. In East Providence, a jurisdiction of about 50,000 residents, Chief Tavares oversees a $12 million annual budget, 93 sworn officers and 88 patrol vehicles.

Chief Tavares plans to build a new police station, replace his entire fleet, and possibly build a state-of-the-art firearms range that could be shared with surrounding agencies.

The state also plans to set up a committee to review funding requests from municipal agencies once a year for training, gear, or other law enforcement initiatives.

The remaining $270 million of the $500 million settlement will be divvied up among federal agencies. A $100 million share will go to federal task-force agencies that provided sworn agents from the FDA, U.S. Postal Service, Secret Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Another $170 million will be deposited into the Department of Justice's asset forfeiture fund.

By Paul Clinton

Tags: Asset Forfeiture, Rhode Island State Police, East Providence (R.I.) PD, North Providence (R.I.) PD, Prescription Drugs, Investigations, Food and Drug Enforcement


Comments (16)

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16

Dustin @ 4/3/2012 9:04 PM

Bingo! Nice work. Drop in the bucket for Googles profits off of their advertising on this product i bet.

One Alaska @ 4/3/2012 9:58 PM

GooD job. Seems like legal extortion to me.

Richard @ 4/4/2012 1:53 AM

Too bad all the money will be gone right away instead of paying for the retirement of all the officers or going to help balance the states budget. It's great that they'll get new cars but with the state of the nation it seems like a faux pax to spend it all like that.

Adrian Stroud @ 4/4/2012 5:39 AM

Nice work by all. Yes, the officer's retirement pensions is a great idea. EPPD is a sharp department and has awesome looking uniforms. I have seen them at CT Police funerals and they are a very professional department. Good work guys.

Larry @ 4/4/2012 6:08 AM

Great job, the man hours and dedication had to be tremendous. I am sure you looked into spending the money the best way possible and looked into the legality of the way you had to spend it. The bad part is everyone has an opinion of what should have done with the money.

kilrbc @ 4/4/2012 6:45 AM

Sorry you have anger issues "J", I hope you get some help with that.

What happened with "no personal attacks or antisocial behavior" comments?

JB @ 4/4/2012 7:42 AM

I have to agree with the person who asks why it should be illegal to buy perscription medicines from Canada. If you have a perscription, posession of the drug is legal, so why shouldn't you be able to buy it from any legitimate supplier?

KC @ 4/4/2012 8:01 AM

Just another example of government greed, spending hours and days and months trying to find some way of strong arming someone out of more $$$$. Shylocks. Glad I've retired. We used to be in the business of being public servants, now they are more like revenue agents.

Long @ 4/4/2012 8:34 AM

This is great news for RI LE agencies.

Capt David-retired LA Cou @ 4/4/2012 9:46 AM

Yes, if you have money you don't get prosecuted....

COPATCH @ 4/4/2012 11:31 AM

To: kilrbc

The answer is very simple. Even though the pharmacies appear to be Canadian in origin, the truth is the companies in Canada only facilitate a transaction and have a Canadian Doctor rubber stamp the prescriptions. The actual source of the medications is Pakistan & India! Many of the pharmaceuticals that they send out are of inferior quality compared to the authentic drugs. I have seen cases where gypsum wall board was place into capsules and sent here as legimate drugs! BUYER BEWARE!!!

A Thomas @ 4/4/2012 11:37 AM

This money has to spent according to certain guidlines. I'm sure they are not allowed to "Supplant" which means to take money that they use for budget items and replace that with this money. So they can't use it to balance budgets or support retirement or insurance funds.

Bob @ 4/4/2012 12:05 PM

You police and lawyers are no better than Tony Soprano. Shaking down one of the few successful American companies. Why don't you actually get a real job instead of stealing from Google? I guess most of you are too incompetant/ useless to be a producer instead of a bunch of leaches.

Searcher5 @ 4/4/2012 1:01 PM

They spent that much time on Google's internet drug sales of script drugs? Guess there isn't any other crime going on up there to put resources against. Shouldn't have taken more than half a dozen geeks monitoring and hacking to get all the info.

Jason Barnes @ 4/4/2012 3:46 PM

This case is unrelated to an earlier case in which Google facilitated the sale of illegal and contaminated/substandard drugs from overseas vendors. The previous case was especially interesting because Google continued its felonious activities even after top executives were specifically warned and acknowledged knowledge of the scheme. It is interesting to ponder why Google repeatedly is able to 'pay off' the authorities instead of seeing their executives put in cuffs and behind bars. Could it have anything to do with Google's oh so cozy relationship with the current administration? A former Google CEO recently took a job with the Obama campaign...

iGreg @ 4/17/2012 9:34 PM

'Nice place you got here, wouldn't want anything bad happen to it. We can make sure you will be OK, and it will only cost you $500 million.'

So let's all think real hard, and ask the question, what does this sound like?

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