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February 4, 2014

WOONSOCKET – State police arrested 13 individuals from northern Rhode Island this morning who were allegedly involved in an “organized criminal gambling operation” after executing warrants to search four locations, including Gold Loan Advance, a pawnshop and check-cashing company owned by the mayor’s brother.
The suspects were to be arraigned in District Court, Providence, at 2 p.m.
Detective Lt. Michael Winquist of the state police said Dan “Rocky” Baldelli is not facing any criminal charges and would not be among those arraigned.
“We have more work to do,” said Winquist. “It’s very much an open investigation.”
Prior to the arraignments, police identified only one of the individuals facing gambling charges – David A. Ayotte, 53, of 634 Old Smithfield Road, North Smithfield. He is a longtime employee of the city of Woonsocket who works in the parks and recreation division.
Winquist described Ayotte as the leader of the operation and he said that Gold Loan Advance, located at 100 Bernon St., was one of four sites raided in connection with the probe. The investigation began in June 2013 and all of those facing charges were picked up this morning. All are from northern Rhode Island, he said.
Baldelli, brother of Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, said he was at home this morning when he learned that the state police had executed a warrant to search his company, located at 100 Bernon St.
He said state police left with computers, about $100,000 in cash, customers’ checks and firearms that were legally registered to provide security for Gold Loan advance.
He said he did not bring his eyeglasses with him and could not read the search warrant. He said he did not know what the state police were looking for or why they wanted it.
Baldelli said the state police somehow opened the business safe before he arrived and there were police officers on the scene for at least two hours before they left with several boxes full of items they’d seized.
“They said it’s not about you,” he said. “You’re not in any trouble.”
A former member of the Woonsocket Fire Department, Baldelli is also the father of former major league ball player Rocco Baldelli, who was with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox before he was sidelined by illness a few years ago. He is also the nephew of former Mayor Charles Baldelli.
Baldelli was arrested for bookmaking in the mid-1980s, but records of that arrest do not appear on the judiciary’s web site.
Mayor Baldelli-Hunt visited the business after the raid, various sources said. Efforts to reach the mayor later were not successful. Dan Baldelli said “this has nothing to do with her” or any other member of his family.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo

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