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Notorious Child Rapist Gets Eight Years in Prison for Casino Fraud

A Rhode Island man who served 30 years in prison for kidnapping and raping children is heading back to the slammer, this time for stealing a casino rewards card.

Richard Gardner, child rapist, kidnapper, Twin River Tiverton, Rhode Island, Massachusetts
Richard Gardner, who terrorized children in the 1980s, appears in the Kent County Superior Court Thursday, above. Police found 12 casino rewards cards at his home when they arrested him for fraud. (Image: WJAR)

Notorious pedophile Richard Gardner, 56, was sentenced to eight years by a judge in Kent County, RI after pleading nolo contendere Thursday to multiple counts of accessing a computer for fraudulent purpose, and obtaining money under false repentance.

Gardner, who terrorized children in New England in the 1980s, used up $2,000 worth of “free play” credits on the stolen card at Bally’s Twin River in Tiverton. He also claimed promotional gifts that were not his to claim.

Caught on Tape

The crime was uncovered when the real owner of the card attempted to claim a gift she had earned at the casino, only to be told it had already been taken.

Gardner was spotted on security video in the process of committing the crime, according to prosecutors. When state police arrested Gardner at his home, they found 12 additional loyalty cards belonging to other people.

“Through an in-depth review of surveillance, that male was later identified to be this defendant,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Batista said. “An investigation further revealed that this defendant utilized the stolen rewards card throughout December, January, and early February.”

1980s Kidnap Spree

In November 1987, Gardner, then 21, blindfolded and raped a 12-year-old boy who had become separated from his mother at a park in Hingham, Mass., according to newspaper reports at the time.

In June 1988, while out on bail for that assault, he abducted a 10-year-old boy in Providence, RI by bundling him into a stolen car. He took him to a secluded place and raped him.

A month later, he broke into a home in Warwick, RI by climbing through a window and kidnapped a 10-year-old boy at knifepoint. He drove the boy to a wooded area and sexually assaulted him before letting him go.

On the same day, he abducted a six-year-old boy who he tied to a tree and assaulted before setting him free 24 hours later.

Gardner was captured after a high-speed car chase through the streets of Warwick that ended when a police cruiser rammed his stolen Camaro, according to reports at the time.

In 2018, when residents of Providence’s Washington Park neighborhood discovered that a recently released Gardner was living in their midst, crowds began picketing his home, demanding he leave town. Providence police spent more than $100K guarding his home from late 2018 to February 2019, according to WJAR.

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