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Hit & Run in Rhode Island

From the Providence Journal Newspaper

COURTS
The penalty for his choice
Jose M. Cordeiro sentenced for hit-and-run crash that left young girl severely injured

By GREGORY SMITH JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

   PROVIDENCE — Nancy Ramos was a happy 15-year-old when she left her family’s apartment in the Codding Court public housing to meet a new friend on Columbus Day weekend in 2009.

   About two hours later she was fighting for her life at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, where she was taken after having been run down by a Jeep operated by a hit-and-run driver on Narragansett Boulevard in the Washington Park neighborhood. She was hospitalized for seven months.

   Having suffered a broken left leg and a brain injury, a 17-year-old Nancy now spends her days in a wheelchair, partially paralyzed, in a long-term-care facility.    “Her reaction is, ‘Why me,’ ” a sister, Damaris Martinez, said recently.

   The driver was Jose M. Cordeiro, an auto-body repairman nicknamed “Joe Maaco,” for the Maaco chain of auto-paint shops, who was at the wheel of a customer’s vehicle. He had picked up the Jeep about one hour before the accident. Afterward, he left it at the customer’s house with more damage, according to court evidence.

   Thursday was Cordeiro’s day of reckoning, in Superior Court. Cordeiro, with a crumpled tissue in his hand, and Nancy’s family began crying midway through a sentencing hearing.

   He pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident, with serious bodily injury resulting. Judge Netti C. Vogel imposed a prison sentence of 10 years, with 5 to serve at the Adult Correctional Institutions and the rest suspended with probation.

   She ordered that his driver’s license be suspended for two years and that if it is reinstated, his car for two years must have an ignition interlock device that prevents him from turning on the engine until he has breathed into the device to prove that he has not consumed alcohol.

   Vogel recited the facts of the case, including Cordeiro’s admission that he stopped the vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, looked back, and then took off after the impact, which the police said threw Nancy 71 feet.

   Cordeiro left her in the street “like road kill,” Vogel said.

   “You made a choice. … You had to know that she was suffering.”

   Cordeiro, 57, of 11 Paula Lane, Johnston, and a citizen of the Azores, faces possible deportation as a result of the conviction, Vogel pointed out.

   John E. MacDonald, one of Cordeiro’s lawyers, told the judge that his client is the father of a 25-year-old son who is housebound in a wheelchair and for whom Cordeiro is the sole financial support. He asked Vogel to see that Cordeiro have work release while at the ACI so Cordeiro could continue to earn money. But she left that decision to the Department of Corrections.

   Yadira Martinez, another of Nancy’s sisters, gave a victim-impact statement on behalf of Nancy, who relatives said could not be brought to court.

   “You took something very special from us. … ,” Martinez said. “I want you to look at me. You made us suffer. …”

   In Portuguese translated to English, Cordeiro said later, “I am very, very, very sorry for what happened to their little girl.”

   “Every day in the evening, I pray for that young lady. …”

   Said Vogel, “I think that the family must have taken some solace from your tears.”

   Some of the common reasons for hit-and-run accidents, according to the police, is that the driver has been drinking alcohol and fears the consequences of that, has an outstanding arrest warrant, and/or is driving without a license.

   Vogel referred to Cordeiro’s two previous convictions for driving while intoxicated and said she does not know if he was drunk in this case because he fled the scene.

   “You were an accident waiting to happen,” she declared.

   Court evidence shows that Cordeiro admitted that he had been drinking before the accident. In a statement to the police, Cordeiro said he remembers nothing between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on the night of the accident, Oct. 10, 2009. Nancy was struck at 7:58 p.m.

   “Cordeiro was highly intoxicated when his wife, Nellie, arrived to pick him up” on Park Avenue, Cranston, later that night, a police report states.

   Cordeiro was not charged with drunken driving. If he had been, he would have faced a more severe sentence, according to Sgt. Paul F. Zienowicz, commander of the Providence police traffic-services unit.

   Detectives did not identify Cordeiro as the driver and locate him until the day after the accident. So too much time had passed, the police noted, to get a usable test of his blood alcohol content. Even if they could, he mighthave been drinking after the accident as well, spoiling any potential link that might have been made between the accident and the alcohol.

   Cordeiro’s case was resolved as the General Assembly considers proposals to beef up the laws on hit-and-run accidents and drunken driving, among other motor-vehicle legislation.

   In 2011, there were about 20 serious hit-and-run accidents statewide, of which 3 were fatalities, according to Sen. Edward J. O’Neill, an independent who represents a district in Lincoln, Pawtucket and North Providence, and sponsor of a bill that would stiffen the penalties for hit-and-runs.

   In Providence alone, there are about 2,600 hit-and-run accidents annually, most of which involve only property damage. gsmith@providencejournal.com 

   (401) 277-7334

THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL / KATHY BORCHERS

   Jose M. Cordeiro appears in court Thursday with defense attorney John MacDonald, left, and interpreter Dalila Ferreira.

Nancy Ramos, shown in a family photo, was 15 when she was run down by a hit-and-run driver on Narragansett Boulevard, Providence, on Oct. 10, 2009. The accident left her partially paralyzed and confined to an undisclosed rehabilitation facility.

THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL / CONNIE GROSCH———————————————————————————-
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5th Amendment

Posted Dec 6, 2011 4:53 PM CST By Martha Neil EmailPrintReprints
Updated: A Michigan criminal defense lawyer spent about four hours in jail on Friday after being held in contempt for telling a client to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at his arraignment.Attorney Scott Millard, 29, who works for Miel & Carr, was supposed to be jailed until Monday. However, he was released Friday after Ottawa County Circuit Judge Edward Post issued an emergency stay of Hudsonville District Court Judge Kenneth Post’s contempt order, according to the Grand Rapids Press and the Holland Sentinel.The articles don’t explain whether the two judges are related to each other.Post apparently had sought information about the 20-year-old client’s drug use to determine appropriate bond conditions. However, Millard reportedly told him not to answer, because he might incriminate himself.Chief District Court Judge Brad Knoll told the newspaper such questions are appropriate for this purpose at an arraignment, and Judge Kenneth Post told the Grand Rapids paper he could not comment on a pending matter.However, attorney Josh Blanchard, who also works for Miel & Carr and is representing Millard in the contempt matter, disagreed, calling the district court’s procedures not compliant with the law.Blanchard also said Millard had done nothing wrong, only “what the law expects of an attorney.” He said Millard “remained calm despite the judge’s threats of jail. He behaved in a manner we’d expect.”Millard is appealing the contempt ruling and has asked the circuit court to take oversight of his client’s minor-in-possession case.A subsequent ABAJournal.com post provides additional details:Transcript: Told to Sit Down, Be Quiet, Lawyer Blocked Judge’s Drug Queries, Was Jailed for ContemptUpdated on Dec. 7 to link to subsequent ABAJournal.com post.———————————————————————————-
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Child Abuse

A small staff of prosecutors and victim advocates will work closely with Day One, a private agency that deals with issues surrounding sexual assault
By W. ZACHARY MALINOWSKI JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
BY THE NUMBERS
PROVIDENCE — Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced on Monday the formation of a Child Abuse Unit whose sole focus will be to prosecute suspects charged with the sexual and physical abuse of children.
The unit will be led by Shannon Signore, a special assistant attorney general, and she will have a small staff of prosecutors and victim advocates trained in handling the emotional and psychological effects associated with molestation and other crimes against young people. Until now, the cases were handled by prosecutors in county courthouses who also handle a wide variety of other crimes.
Kilmartin said that will change with the new unit.
“All the referrals are going to go to Shannon [Signore],” a state prosecutor for 10 years, Kilmartin said. “She is going to make the determination.’’ undertaking
Collaborative
The well-attended announcement was made in the basement of Day One, a private agency in Wayland Square that deals with issues surrounding sexual assault as a community concern. Kilmartin’s office will work closely with the Day One staff, along with local police departments, the Department of Children, Youth and Families, and doctors at Hasbro Children’s Hospital to tackle the problem of child abuse.
Dr. Amy Goldberg, a certified child-abuse pediatrician at Hasbro, said that she has been waiting 11 years for something like the Child Abuse Unit and the collaborative effort among the various agencies to take hold. She said that physicians at Hasbro annually evaluate about 1,500 children who are possible victims of abuse. According to Kilmartin’s office, state prosecutors have charged 40 people with child molestation this year and 34 others face felony counts of child abuse or child neglect.
Law-enforcement officials say it’s difficult to gauge whether more children are abused or attacked today than in the past.
Kilmartin said that, historically, children and families were reluctant to report abuse because of the “shame attached.” And, in many cases, the abuser is a family member or someone close to the family.
Kilmartin and Margaret “Peg” Lynch-Gadaleta, a former prosecutor who serves as Day One’s director of advocacy and legal services, said the Child Abuse Unit will ease the victim’s journey through the criminal-justice system. Instead of sitting down for a series of interviews with doctors, police officers and prosecutors, a child will go directly to the unit and tell his or her story.
“These victims are the least likely to be able to stop crimes from being committed against them, report crimes to law enforcement and have the support they need to get through the legal process,” Kilmartin said. “All of the attorneys and support staff in this unit have both a desire and a commitment to help victims survive the crimes committed against them, and empower them to be involved in the process of punishing the perpetrator of the crime.”
Interim Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements hailed the collaborative effort of the police, attorney general’s office and other agencies. He underscored the problem in Providence by saying that there are 477 registered sex offenders in the city.
“We take this seriously,” he said. “These victims are our most vulnerable.”
On another note, officials at Day One announced that its Children’s Advocacy Center has been re-accredited by the National Children’s Alliance.
“Accreditation not only validates Day One’s proven effective approach to responding to allegations of child abuse, but also provides consistency across the child-advocacy movement as a whole,” said Peg Langhammer, Day One’s executive director. bmalinow@providencejournal.com  
(401) 277-7019
Sexual offenses
Day One, the sexual-assault and trauma resource center, supplied the following statistics:
17.6 percent Percentage of women in the United States who say they are victims of a rape or attempted rape. Of those, 21.6 percent of the survivors are between the ages of 12 and 17 years old.
1 in 4 Ratio of girls in the United States who are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
1 in 6 Ratio of boys in the United States who are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
Source: Day One

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RI Federal Court

COURTS

By MICHAEL P. McKINNEY JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

PROVIDENCE — It was day three of the federal trial of some police officers accused in a lawsuit, and the lawyers were at odds. It was time, on the issue of how to pose a question to a witness, to face the music. And hear some, too. As the lawyers approached the bench, orchestral music wafted through courtroom speakers and, not unlike a conductor striding from the stage, Judge William E. Smith walked out to meet the lawyers in sidebar, trying to get everyone in tune. At least five times that day, the music sounded as judge and legal teams shuffled back and forth in U.S. District Court. Instruments performed sweeping, lush harmonies. The judge and lawyers talked, hand motions in abundance, but to the observer theirs was a silent film with only a soundtrack.

Every time they headed back to the defense and plaintiff tables, the music stopped and questioning resumed.

The music is there to shield the sidebar discussion from the ears of jurors and witnesses, Smith said in an interview.

Anyone who’s sat in at a state District Court hearing or Superior Court trial has heard whispers or more as legal teams and judge strategize in not-quite dulcet tones. In federal courtrooms, besides music, the options can include white noise, a sound played to mask other sounds in a space, during the sidebars, or bench conferences . In some federal courtrooms, in which sidebar conversations are deemed not audible, no sound is played.

Smith had served a year or so in the other federal court building across the street.

“I couldn’t stand that white noise,” he said, and wondered if it might bother jurors.

So about eight years ago, Smith said, he decided to opt for playing music, typically classical. “It’s just a little more pleasant.”

While he prefers to keep sidebars to a minimum for the jury’s sake, Smith said, he has never had one of the conferences run so long that music ran out. He recalled a longer trial where the music — “I think it was Vivaldi” — had become repetitive, so some Van Morrison and a little Bob Dylan filled in during sidebars.

To shroud the conversation, he said, “Van Morrison was better than Dylan because Van Morrison has some orchestra in it.”

But instrumental music is the norm.

“Classical is probably the best choice,” Smith said, “because it fills the space better than almost any other kind of music you could find.” Other music, he said, may have gaps where nothing is being played, allowing some sidebar conversation to be heard. And, he said, given differing tastes, he felt people would largely be amenable to classical.

Classical is a catch-all term for music including several eras: 17th-century baroque pieces, such as those written by J.S. Bach; 18th-century music by composers including Mozart; 19th-century romantic works by the likes of Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin; and 20th-century music by composers such as Shostakovich and Britten.

Outside of work, Smith said, he likes music of his generation and some that his children have introduced him to, bands such as Wilco and The Decemberists. Growing up, he tried his hand at the guitar but said he didn’t think he was so good at it; he had friends who played better.

In Smith’s courtroom, a clerk uses a high-tech console to activate everything from case exhibits on video screens to audio for testimony. She also cues up the music selection.

Smith said the court building had its sound system redone in the last year. Speakers are embedded in wood in various locations.

Don’t expect a television legal-drama moment where an ominous soundtrack accompanies a perfectly scripted prosecutor delivering a speech which, in a real courtroom, might not get past the word “objection.” And there’s no way to make a bootleg recording; cell phones and recording devices are not allowed in federal courtrooms. The music lasts for what’s far from concert length.

But Smith said he’s heard enough of the current choices, so the soundtrack will change again soon. A clerk is bringing in new music. mmckinne@providencejournal.com

(401) 277-7447

THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL / MARY MURPHY

Judge William Smith prefers to keep private sidebar conferences with lawyers to a minimum, but when they’re needed, he prefers to play classical music so jurors don’t hear.

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If you have questions about this posting or are interested in Divorce, Immigration, or Estate Law in RI or MA contact Massachusetts and Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Rui P. Alves at 401-942-3100 or CONTACT him via email.

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Divorce & Holidays

Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.GET UPDATES FROM MARIE HARTWELL-WALKER, ED.D. Divorced Parenting During the Holiday Season: Flexibility is the KeyPosted: 11/15/11 03:00 AM ETReactAmazingInspiringFunnyScaryHotCrazyImportantWeirdRead moreDivorce , Divorce Ho…

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Divorce Lawyer and Criminal Defense Attorney for Rhode Island & Massachusetts 2011-11-15 22:08:00

Facebook Passwords Must Be Shared in Divorce Case
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A Connecticut judge ordered a divorcing couple to share their Facebook and
other online account passwords, underscoring the importance social media
information plays in family court cases.
The judge issued the order in response to the husband’s revelation his wife
wrote incriminating posts on Facebook about her feelings towards the children
and her ability to care for them on the couple’s shared computer. Wife Courtney
Gallion was also ordered to hand over passwords for her eHarmony and Match.com
accounts.
In March, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found 80 percent of divorce cases
included social media posts
, mostly from Facebook, as evidence in the past
five years. And the evidence can extend beyond written posts to the pictures
that users include on their profiles.
“I saw a picture of a toddler in front of a coffee table with bags of
marijuana, whiskey bottles and a big pile of money,” said Janice Davidson,
director of the Marion County Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, to the
station. “We called Child Protective Services and got them involved so they
could make sure that child was protected.”
Administrative Law Judge Ellen Bass ruled today a Paterson, N.J.-based
teacher’s comments, referring to the school’s students as “future criminals” in
a frustrated post, “demonstrated a complete lack of sensitivity to the world in
which her students live.”
Bass recommended the teacher be removed from her tenured position
.
Lawyers aren’t the only ones snooping online. Police, prosecutors and health
insurers are increasingly mining social media for evidence to prosecute crimes and
investigate fraud
. Lawyers are even increasingly sifting through the
postings, messages and check-ins on social networking sites to even determine jury
selection
.
Some may see the judge’s order in the Gallion case as court-sanctioned
hacking, but others see it as a reasonable request for a relevant piece of a
family court puzzle. Regardless, the court is following the population’s
fascination with the technology and ruling as it sees fit, and the increasing
prevalence of Facebook and social media will ensure the subject will likely be
one courts will wrestle with in the future.
This post
originally appeared at Mobiledia.———————————————————————————-
If you have questions about this posting or are interested in Divorce, Immigration, or Estate Law in RI or MA contact Massachusetts and Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Rui P. Alves at 401-942-3100 or CONTACT him via email.
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Facebook & Divorce

Facebook Passwords Must Be Shared in Divorce Case
0 comments, 0 called-out + Comment now
+ Comment
now

A Connecticut judge ordered a divorcing couple to share their Facebook and
other online account passwords, underscoring the importance social media
information plays in family court cases.
The judge issued the order in response to the husband’s revelation his wife
wrote incriminating posts on Facebook about her feelings towards the children
and her ability to care for them on the couple’s shared computer. Wife Courtney
Gallion was also ordered to hand over passwords for her eHarmony and Match.com
accounts.
In March, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found
80 percent of divorce cases
included social media posts
, mostly from Facebook, as evidence in the past
five years. And the evidence can extend beyond written posts to the pictures
that users include on their profiles.
“I saw a picture of a toddler in front of a coffee table with bags of
marijuana, whiskey bottles and a big pile of money,” said Janice Davidson,
director of the Marion County Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, to the
station. “We called Child Protective Services and got them involved so they
could make sure that child was protected.”
Administrative Law Judge Ellen Bass ruled today a Paterson, N.J.-based
teacher’s comments, referring to the school’s students as “future criminals” in
a frustrated post, “demonstrated a complete lack of sensitivity to the world in
which her students live.”

Bass recommended the teacher be removed from her tenured position
.
Lawyers aren’t the only ones snooping online. Police, prosecutors and health
insurers are increasingly mining social media for evidence
to prosecute crimes and
investigate fraud
. Lawyers are even increasingly sifting through the
postings, messages and check-ins on social networking sites to
even determine jury
selection
.
Some may see the judge’s order in the Gallion case as court-sanctioned
hacking, but others see it as a reasonable request for a relevant piece of a
family court puzzle. Regardless, the court is following the population’s
fascination with the technology and ruling as it sees fit, and the increasing
prevalence of Facebook and social media will ensure the subject will likely be
one courts will wrestle with in the future.
This
post
originally appeared at
Mobiledia.http://www.forbes.com/sites/mobiledia/2011/11/14/facebook-passwords-must-be-shared-in-divorce-case/?feed=rss_home———————————————————————————-
If you have questions about this posting or are interested in Divorce, Immigration, or Estate Law in RI or MA contact Massachusetts and Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Rui P. Alves at 401-942-3100 or CONTACT him via email.
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Progreso Latino Citizenship Program Funding Awarded

Progreso Latino provides local assistance to permanent residents in Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Cranston and East Providence, in the form of wellness care and immigration programs. If you need the assistance of an Immigration Attorney in RI, …

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Domestic Violence Can Escalate to the Workplace

A recent shooting at a Lowe’s store in NC that was linked to a domestic violence issue between a husband and wife, highlights the need for more control over workplaces and employees who may be victims of or dealing with domestic violence at home.

If you have been involved in domestic violence in RI of any kind, contact Alves Law at (401) 942-3100 or use the contact form HERE for more information.

Local employers to learn how to prevent domestic violence in the workplace

Melissa Hankins
September 21, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – A stunning display of how domestic violence can spill over into the workplace occurred locally Monday night, leaving Lowe’s employees devastated.

A woman was working the register when her husband came in and shot her to death. Then, he killed himself.

“Oh, it was just absolutely heartbreaking. But it really highlights the reason we’ve been planning the summit for months now,” says Kelly Coyne.

Coyne works with United Family Services. The Charlotte non-profit will host a conference October 7th and 8th, designed to help businesses prevent tragedy.

“What’s really important for employers to know is that they have domestic violence victims that are already there,” Coyne says. “This isn’t something that happens to those people that work at those types companies. It is really prevalent at all companies.”

“Telling Amy’s Story” is a movie to be screened at the summit, and it tells the story of a woman murdered during her shift at Verizon. Her death inspired managers there to make huge changes.

“They have a fabulous domestic violence in the workplace policy and have really put their money and their training where their mouth is,” Coyne says.

Verizon gives employees time off to get restraining orders and other help, it provides conference rooms for conversations that can’t be held at home.

The company relocates workers if they need to move – the lists goes on, and it all benefits both victims and the company.

“If the compelling reason to save lives isn’t enough for an employer, it really impacts the bottom line. The Department of Labor estimate $5 billion dollars per year is lost to due to domestic violence,” Coyne says.

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Domestic Abuse Statistics Sobering

Statistics regarding domestic abuse in New York show that the “least safe place for a woman… is her own home.” With “44 percent” of them killed by a partner. If you are being abused, or are ready to leave an abusive relationship, contact an abuse helpline service or your local police before you do anything to ensure your own safety and the safety of the rest of your family.

And when you are ready to legally separate from the union, contact me for help at (401) 942-3100 or use the contact form HERE for more information.

I’m Establishing a Non-Profit to Offer Divorce Help to Abused Women
Jeff Landers

A few weeks ago, I ran across a truly jarring statistic, and I still can’t shake it from my thoughts.

Data collected by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice shows that, for the second year in a row, 44 percent of all women killed in New York were killed by an intimate partner.

As State Division of Criminal Justice Services acting commissioner Sean Byrne pointed out to WCBS, “That means the least safe place for a woman in New York State is her own home.”

Unfortunately, I’ve seen firsthand just how true this statement is. Over the years, I’ve been retained by quite a few women who, at the time, were in physically and/or mentally abusive relationships.

We all know that even under the best of circumstances, divorce is complicated and emotionally trying. For these women, though, the process is exponentially harder. Typically, they know very little about their family finances because controlling husbands are extremely secretive about financial matters. And, of course, women in abusive relationships live under the very real threat of physical violence if their husbands get angry and/or suspicious.

Many are simply frozen with fear. They’re terrified about their own safety and the safety of their children.

It’s something I’ve seen far too many times, and I’ve decided I’m going to do what I can to help. Currently, I am in the process of establishing a non-profit charity that will help abused women get the legal and financial advice they need to divorce their spouse.

After all, physical abuse is usually associated with what Jeffrey A. Friedman, Executive Director of The Retreat, calls “financial abuse.”

The Retreat, which is located in The Hamptons on Long Island, NY, is an organization that works to break the cycle of family violence while also providing safety, shelter and support for domestic abuse victims. As Jeff sees it, the correlation between physical and financial abuse is strong and can lead to long-term debilitating consequences.

“Domestic Violence is all about power and control,” he told me. “More often than not an abuser can control a victim by controlling the finances in the household. Money is the means that they can ensure financial dependence. Financial abuse can mean: preventing you from getting or keeping a job, having you to account for every penny spent, denying access to check book/account/finances, threatening to force you out of the house and make you homeless and demanding your paychecks. Financial abuse can have serious and long term effects. Victims can become trapped in a cycle of poverty, can experience unhealthy physical and psychological effects and feel hopeless and trapped in the abusive environment.”

Continued HERE

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If you have questions about this posting or are interested in Divorce, Immigration, or Estate Law in RI or MA contact Massachusetts and Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Rui P. Alves at 401-942-3100 or CONTACT him via email.

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