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R.I. Town Officials Urged to Quit

February 19, 2002

LINCOLN, R.I. (AP) _ Gov. Lincoln Almond on Monday urged two Lincoln officials accused of accepting bribes to resign from their posts in this northern Rhode Island town.

Town Administrator Jonathan F. Oster, 50, and planning board member Robert R. Picerno, 55, were arrested on bribery charges over the weekend following a five-month investigation, Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse said. Both men pleaded innocent and were released on bail.

Whitehouse released few details but said Oster accepted a $10,000 payment on Saturday, and Picerno accepted payments of $25,000 and $20,000 Thursday and Friday.

Oster did not return messages left at his home. There was no phone listing for Picerno in North Providence where he lives.

Almond, a former federal prosecutor who began his career in Lincoln, said he believed it would be difficult for the men to do their job and defend themselves against the charges.

Several town officials said the charter gives them no authority to remove Oster from office while the charges are pending.

Lincoln is about seven miles north of Providence.

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