2017-09-28 / Front Page

Neronha throws hat into ring

Former U.S. attorney will run for Rhode Island AG

By Tim Riel

Peter Neronha, a fourth-generation Jamestowner and the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island during the Obama administration, announced his bid Tuesday morning to become the state’s attorney general.

“I’m asking you, the people of Rhode Island, to send me back to where my life in public service began,” said Neronha, a state prosecutor from 1996-2002.  

Neronha, 53, unveiled the news at East Ferry Veterans Memorial Square in front of dozens of onlookers, including his wife of 23 years, Shelly Johnson, and his two sons, Zachary and Joshua. With news cameras focused on the Democrat, he vowed to fight the opioid crisis, political corruption and the “shifting priorities” of President Donald Trump and his U.S. Justice Department. Neronha, along with nearly 50 colleagues across the nation, was ousted from office in March by Trump.

“When President Trump told me that my work for Rhode Island was over, Shelly and I decided it wasn’t,” he said.

If elected, Neronha said, he would serve the constitutions of Rhode Island and the United States, not the president. He said this country needs attorneys general who have the guts to stand up to Trump, including his unconstitutional policies on immigration.

“The attorney general’s office will become the Department of Justice, not in name, but in spirit he said.

During his time as U.S. attorney, Neronha convicted former state legislators Gordon Fox and Raymond Gallison, of financial fraud. While those cases were in the public eye, he also mentioned an IRS phone scam that cost a Rhode Islander $6,000. Getting the victim his money back, Neronha said, was equally satisfying to those high-profile cases.

As for violent crimes, Neronha said simply locking up violators isn’t the solution. Prevention and re-entry into society, he said, are as important as prosecution and incarceration.

“I want every kid in Rhode Island to have the chance I did,” he said, “to grow up safe.”

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