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 October 22, 2003
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Lincoln Park officials arraigned in alleged bribery scheme
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Top officials connected to the Lincoln Park gambling hall pleaded innocent Friday to federal charges they concocted a $4.5 million bribery scheme to win political support for expansion plans.

Daniel Bucci, the park�s chief executive officer, and Nigel Potter, who was a top executive with Lincoln Park�s London-based parent, Wembley plc, are named in the 22-count indictment.  Prosecutors say the pair conspired to bribe the law firm of former House Speaker John Harwood to obtain more lottery terminals at the dog track and gambling facility.

The government also claims the scheme was designed to prevent approval of a casino proposed by the Narragansett Indians.

Magistrate Judge Robert Lovegreen set bail at $50,000 secured bond for Bucci. Potter agreed to $100,000 cash bail and was allowed to return to England. Prosecutors had sought to keep Potter in Rhode Island until the trial. Potter�s attorney told the judge his client had no criminal record and would not fight extradition.

Asked as he left the courthouse if he was relieved to be returning to England, Potter said: �I am indeed.�

Bucci refused to answer questions as he left the courthouse. His attorney, Anthony Traini, said, �Mr. Bucci will say what he has to say at trial.�

Bucci has temporarily stepped down and Potter has resigned from Wembley�s board and his position as chief executive, though he�s still a company employee.

Wembley and park officials have acknowledged talking privately about paying a bonus to the park�s longtime attorney, Daniel McKinnon, who is Harwood�s Pawtucket law partner. They say the proposed payments, to be paid over six years, were meant to be a reward for past service.

Neither McKinnon nor Harwood, still a Democratic state representative, has been charged. The indictment, handed up Sept.  9, does not mention a payment having been made.

Potter traveled from London for the arraignment before Judge Lovegreen. Potter�s attorney, Leonard O�Brien, had hoped his client�s cooperation will persuade the court to allow his client to remain in England while the charges are pending.

In a statement released earlier this week, Potter said, �I never suggested bribing anyone. I never agreed that anyone would be given a bribe.�

O�Brien claimed before the hearing that �critical information� is missing from the government case, but he did not elaborate.

The indictment claims the defendants wanted Harwood and other public officials to lobby the state Lottery Commission to approve additional video lottery terminals at the park, which is the state�s largest gambling facility.

The nine-member commission, which includes six state lawmakers, in January unanimously approved adding 1,300 new machines at Lincoln Park. It also voted to add video lottery terminals at Newport Grand Jai Alai.

The state shares in the profits from the terminals. The park contributed $127 million to the state last fiscal year, according to the Lottery Commission.

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