Pubdate: Sat, 07 Oct 2000
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Contact:  PO Box 120191, San Diego, CA, 92112-0191
Fax: (619) 293-1440
Author: Chris Lehourites, Associated Press


Rhode Island Incumbent Flies South Amid Questions

JOHNSTON, R.I. -- It's quite a choice for mayor this year: The incumbent, 
William Macera, was pulled over by police with a campaign aide who was 
charged with driving while using marijuana.

The same day, write-in candidate Louis Vinagro was charged with threatening 
a state official trying to inspect his pig farm. Then there's George 
Resnick, a Republican candidate considered a long shot in this heavily 
Democratic community.

"I don't want to vote for a pothead," Anthony Esposito, a 77-year-old 
retiree, said yesterday as he entered a restaurant next to Town Hall. "I 
might vote for the pig farmer. He isn't a bad person. He gives a lot of 
money away to charity."

The mayoral race in this town of 27,000 took its odd twist Tuesday, when 
Macera and his aide, school custodian Alan Iemma, were pulled over.

The mayor said he and Iemma had left a school meeting for some fresh air 
and drove toward the state dump, where Macera said he frequently goes to 
inspect complaints about odors. Police said the car Iemma was driving 
matched the description of one suspected in a series of break-ins, so they 
stopped him.

In court affidavits, police said the inside of the car smelled strongly of 
marijuana, that Iemma and Macera smelled of the drug and both men had 
bloodshot, watery eyes.

Iemma was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of 
marijuana and other counts. He denies the charges. Macera wasn't arrested, 
and prosecutors say the former priest won't be charged.

Macera made a brief public statement denying wrongdoing, then boarded a 
plane for what he said was a long-planned Florida vacation.

"The reports, if true, raise serious questions about who Mr. Macera 
associates himself with and what types of decisions he is capable of 
making," Resnick said.

Johnston residents are more accustomed to hearing about write-in candidate 
Vinagro's brushes with the law.

Besides his countless scraps with the state environmental department over 
his trash-recycling business, he has an extensive criminal record, 
including running pit-bull fights and violating hazardous-waste laws. In 
this latest run-in, Vinagro swore at the state environmental official and 
ordered him off his property, police said.

Vinagro did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.
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