Rhode Island Charges Ex-Providence Politician with Fraud

By | November 22, 2010

A former North Providence councilman already accused of corruption was indicted Thursday along with three others, including an on-air radio personality, of trying to rip off an insurance company by intentionally damaging a home and filing a bogus claim.

A federal grand jury charged John A. Zambarano and three others with mail fraud and conspiracy. Prosecutors say the defendants submitted a sham insurance claim of nearly $50,000 after damaging a home and in-ground pool and blaming the wreckage on a fictitious wind and rain storm last April.

The investigation grew out of an ongoing probe into alleged corruption in North Providence. Zambarano and two other former council members were indicted in May on charges of sharing in a $25,000 payment from a developer who sought a zoning change to build a supermarket. The three have pleaded not guilty.

Zambarano’s lawyer, Tom Briody, said Thursday afternoon that he had not read the indictment and could not comment on the latest charges.

The radio personality indicted is Lori Sergiacomi, who uses the name Tanya Cruise on Lite Rock 105. Her phone rang unanswered Thursday evening, and it wasn’t immediately clear if she had a lawyer. A phone message left at the radio station was not answered Thursday.

Prosecutors say after Sergiacomi’s North Providence home was damaged by record-setting rainfall and flooding in March, but she did not have flood insurance. Zambarano and another defendant, insurance adjuster Vincent DiPaolo, allegedly advised her against filing a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency because she would have to repay it as a loan and because the agency would not cover the roof and swimming pool improvements that she wanted to make.

Instead, prosecutors say, Zambarano and the fourth defendant, Robert Ricci, 49, of North Providence, intentionally damaged Sergiacomi’s home and pool to make it look it had been struck by a wind and rain storm.

“I just got to go on the roof later this afternoon and do what I got to do over there. I got a good size branch … made a… you know a hole in the thing and it went through the liner,” Zambarano told DiPaolo about the damage, according to the indictment.

Later, in boasting about his work, the indictment quotes Zambarano as saying: “Wait till you see Lori’s house. You’re gonna want me to be your demolition man all the time. I spent three (expletive) hours over there getting everything ready.”

Prosecutors say the defendants created fake invoices and submitted a false insurance claim for nearly $50,000 to an insurance company.

A lawyer for Ricci, a hearing officer for the Rhode Island Contractor’s Registration and Licensing Board, had no immediate comment on the indictment. A phone number for DiPaolo could not immediately be found, and it was unclear if he had a lawyer.

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