- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A restaurant owner accused of paying off former House Speaker Gordon Fox to get a liquor license was indicted Friday on one count of bribing a public official.

The indictment returned against Raymond Hugh by a state grand jury in Providence was announced by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell.

Hugh is accused of bribing Fox in 2008, when the Democratic politician sat on the Providence board of licenses. Fox admitted in federal court this year that he took checks and cash worth more than $50,000 to help push through a liquor license for one of Hugh’s restaurants, the Shark Sushi Bar and Grill. The license application faced strenuous opposition from neighbors, including Brown University.

At the time, Fox was the House majority leader. He became House speaker in 2010 and was forced to step down in 2014 when his home and Statehouse office were raided by law enforcement.

Fox is now serving a three-year federal prison term for bribery and for taking more than $100,000 from his campaign account for his own use.

Hugh’s lawyer, Michael Lepizzera, said Hugh planned to plead not guilty when he is arraigned Nov. 18.

“Mr. Hugh vehemently denies the charge,” he said.

Hugh, 48, of Cranston, who co-owned the restaurant, said when Fox was charged this year that he didn’t know anything about a bribe. He told WPRI-TV after the indictment was announced Friday that Fox had been his lawyer and he hired him to perform legal work for the Shark Bar.

Asked why Fox said in court he accepted a bribe, Hugh told the station, “That’s something I will probably never know.”

The maximum sentence for bribing a public official in Rhode Island is 20 years.

The restaurant has since been sold.

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