A Connecticut little league coach who was arrested after arranging to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex at a Warwick hotel in January – and being found in possession of child pornography – has been sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Christopher L. Merchant, 34, of Woodstock, Connecticut, pleaded guilty in March to charges of travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and transporting child pornography.
He received his sentence July 19 before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith. He was additionally ordered to serve 15 years of supervised release following his prison term and to pay a mandatory assessment of $5,000 under the terms of the Justice for Victims Trafficking Act.
Prosecutors say Merchant admitted that on numerous occasions starting in January, he engaged in sexually graphic online exchanges with an individual he believed to be a 14-year-old boy. He later arranged to meet with the boy at the Warwick hotel to engage in sexual activity.
In reality, Merchant was communicating with a member of the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. At the time, the task force member was conducting an investigation into online child exploitation via a dating and social networking app for smart phones.
A Warwick Police officer has been suspended after being arrested in connection with an apparent road-rage incident.
David Boardman, 27, of Cranston is charged with disorderly conduct and malicious damage in connection with the July 14 incident.
Boardman has been an officer with Warwick Police since 2016, according to a statement from Warwick Police Chief Col. Rick Rathbun, and was off-duty at the time of his arrest.
“Because there is also an internal affairs investigation associated with this case, I cannot make any other public comments on this case or any subsequent internal investigation that is ongoing,” Rathbun’s statement reads. “The officers of the Warwick Police Department are expected to comport themselves in a controlled and professional manner at all times, whether on or off duty. As such, whenever we are made aware of a case like this we will investigate it thoroughly and when warranted charges will be filed.”
On July 11 at approximately 11:35 p.m., Officer Ben L. Bratko responded to Quaker Lane to assist another officer with a driving under the influence investigation.
At the scene, Bratko spoke with the other officer, who indicated who was working a construction detail when he observed the vehicle in question – a black 2016 Ford SUV – come off of the nearby highway exit ramp at a high rate of speed.
The officer said he believed the vehicle was going to strike his cruiser before its operator slammed on the brakes and came to a stop behind him. He then made contact with the operator, who is said to have exhibited “multiple signs of impairment.”
Bratko made contact with the operator and observed her to be “extremely unsteady on her feet.” The operator is additionally said to have had “bloodshot and watery” eyes and slurred speech.
The operator is said to have agreed to undergo field sobriety testing, which she reportedly failed.
Diane Marie Lolio, 35, 26 Brook St., West Warwick, was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence and transported to Warwick Police headquarters for processing. While at headquarters, she is said to have refused to submit to a chemical breath test.
Lolio was issued a summons to appear in Third Division District Court on a charge of driving under the influence, second offense. She was additionally cited for refusal to submit to a chemical test and a laned roadway violation. She was held pending transportation to court in the morning.
Just after 1:30 a.m. on July 13, Officer Jordan P. Guyton was conducting a routine patrol on King Street when he observed a Toyota Camry making a right turn from a side street “in an abrupt, sudden manner without yielding to the right-of-way traffic.”
Guyton followed the vehicle as it traveling onto Main Street and observed it “leave its lane of travel several times.” The vehicle then entered the on-ramp for Interstate 95 north, at which point the officer initiated a motor vehicle stop.
Guyton made contact with the operator and “detected a moderate odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath.” During the interaction, the officer also reports observing the operator’s eyes to be “glassy” and his speech to be slurred. The operator is said to have acknowledged consuming alcoholic earlier that night.
The operator is said to have agreed to undergo field sobriety testing, which he reportedly failed.
Dylan Dupre, 23, 6 Salem St., Coventry, was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence and transported to Warwick Police headquarters for processing. While at headquarters, he is said to have refused to submit to a chemical breath test.
Dupre was later released to the custody of a sober adult and issued a summons to appear in Third Division District Court on a charge of driving under the influence. He was additionally cited for refusal to submit to submit to a chemical test, a right-of-way violation and failure to use a turn signal.
Shortly before 8:30 a.m. on July 12, Officer Jeremy T. Smith responded to the Villa Del Rio apartment complex on Greenwich Avenue for a report of a larceny.
At the scene, the reporting party told Smith he had arrived to stay with his girlfriend between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on July 11. The next morning, he found the rims and tires of his 2015 BMX X6 were missing. The damage was estimated at $2,000 or more.
Smith examined the vehicle, which was missing all four tires and rims and was balanced on black milk crates.
No physical evidence was found, and surveillance footage did not capture the larceny. The matter was forwarded to detectives.
Shortly before 8 p.m. on July 13, Officer Brenen J. Cardoza responded to the Wyndham Hotel on Post Road for a report of a larceny.
At the scene, the reporting party indicated he had left his room at approximately 6 a.m. that morning. When he returned at approximately 7 p.m., the room had been cleaned and a black L.L. Bean backpack was missing. The backpack is said to have contained about $30 in cash as well as clothing, sneakers, a phone charger and board games.
The backpack was not in the hotel’s housekeeping closet nor the lost-and-found area, according to Cardoza. The matter was documented.
At approximately 1:09 a.m. on July 11, Officer Tyler J. Mobrice was traveling west on West Shore Road in the area of Hoxsie Four Corners when he observed a black Honda Accord swerve between lanes and stop in the middle of two lanes while waiting for a stop light.
Mobrice initiated a motor vehicle stop at the Speedway on Airport Road and made contact with the operator. The operator said he had not consumed alcohol that night and Mobrice reports observing no presence of an alcoholic beverage.
The operator is said to have told Mobrice he did not have a driver’s license. A subsequent records check found the operator did not have an active license or permit and had previously been charged with driving without a license on multiple occasions.
Marcus A. Stobert, 27, 52 Fairview Ave., Providence, was arrested on a charge of driving without a license, third or subsequent offense, and transported to Warwick Police headquarters for processing.
Just before 4 p.m. on July 10, Officer Evan E. Johnson met with a reporting party at headquarters regarding damage to a motor vehicle.
The reporting party indicated that she had been traveling north on Quaker Lane in her black 2016 Mustang GT convertible earlier that afternoon when a “liquid sprayed down onto her car” under the Centerville Road overpass.
“A short time later she visited a car wash in an effort to remove the solution,” Johnson’s report reads. “However, the solution caused irreparable damage to the paint on the vehicle.”
Johnson examined the vehicle outside at headquarters and “observed a number of spots on the hood and trunk lid as well as the leather inside the vehicle.” He reports that the spots “were consistent with a spray pattern and appeared to tarnish the otherwise flawless paint.” No other damage was visible.