PROVIDENCE – State Sens. Harold M. Metts and Juan M. Pichardo, both Providence Democrats, are urging Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin to commit a portion of the $230 million in Google settlement funds received by Rhode Island to funding re-entry programs for ex-offenders.
According to a statement, federal guidelines state that up to 15 percent of the funds can be used for purposes such as community-based programs. Those can include drug-abuse treatment, drug and crime prevention education and housing and job-skills programs
In a letter, Metts and Pichardo asked Kilmartin to consider using the funding for community-based programs designed to help ex-offenders re-enter society.
The U.S. Justice Department, with assistance from the Office of the Rhode Island Attorney General, and both the North Providence and East Providence police departments, investigated Google for allowing Canadian pharmacies to illegally sell their drugs to American consumers through their website. Google allegedly knew as early as 2003 that it was illegal to ship prescription drugs from outside the U.S. to American consumers. Yet, the company was allowing Canadian pharmacies to advertise on their website to American consumers, then charge premium prices to those consumers even if they lacked a valid prescription for these drugs.
In 2013, Google settled with the Justice Department and agreed to pay $500 million. Rhode Island’s share of that settlement was $230 million. As per agreement with the federal government, those funds were distributed to the North Providence Police Department, $60 million; East Providence Police Department, $60 million; R.I. attorney general’s office, $60 million; R.I. State Police, $45 million; R.I. National Guard, $5 million. •