PROVIDENCE Luís Matos nominated for R.I. Superior Court, may be first Portuguese immigrant to take the state bench

PROVIDENCE — Luis Matos says it is his duty to make a positive contribution to this country because it has given him everything.

The Portuguese native has spent the last two decades prosecuting criminals, primarily seeking justice for victims of health care fraud, white-collar fraud and public corruption.

On Tuesday, the 47-year-old Assistant U.S. Attorney was nominated for a vacancy on the Rhode Island Supreme Court by Governor Lincoln D. Chafee.

“I always had an interest in working in public interest causes and I wanted to do my part to give back to this state and this country, for the opportunity I had to come to the United States,” Attorney Matos told O Jornal, speaking in Portuguese. “I appreciate the Governor’s confidence. I pledge to use my legal and life experience to apply the law fairly, evenly, and in the interest of justice.”

The governor’s nomination must now be confirmed by the state Senate.

“Luis Matos is eminently qualified, with decades of valuable legal experience and awards and accolades from every position he has held,” Governor Chafee said in a prepared statement. “He has earned an outstanding reputation in Rhode Island’s legal community, and has been described as a man of high character and integrity.”

Vice-Consul of Portugal in Providence José Leonel Teixeira said Matos’ nomination to the state bench is “the most recent source of pride for the Portuguese community.”

“He is an excellent person,” said Teixeira. “I hope the confirmation process will be swift.”

On a personal level, Teixeira said Matos is “very timid, reserved, humble and keeps the [Portuguese] traditions alive.”

Matos, a native of Batalha, mainland Portugal, comes from humble beginnings and has a compelling story.
He immigrated to Rhode Island with his family in 1969, settling in Fox Point, Providence.

The son of Armenio, 74, a former factory worker who completed fourth grade, and Maria Fernanda, 75, a former housekeeper at Rhode Island Hospital, he was the first person in his family to graduate from college.
“My parents are my role models,” said Matos. “My parents achieved the American dream. They have greatly shaped the person I am today. They are the ones who have given me the example of how I should act and what I should achieve.”
On Tuesday, his parents were by his side as the governor announced his nomination.

“They are proud of me, but I’m also proud of them,” Matos said. “The most important thing for me was to give my parents the news and to have the good fortune that they are still in good health to witness this day.”

Matos, who has served as Assistant United States Attorney in the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island since 2001, has earned an outstanding reputation in that state’s legal community. He has led successful prosecutions in various high-profile cases, including that of Robert A. Urciuoli, who as president of Roger Williams Medical Center bribed then-State Senator John A. Celona. He also prosecuted Dr. Wallace E. Gonsalves Jr., who diluted vaccines administered to immigrant patients.

When asked what achievement he is most proud of, he did not hesitate to answer.

“That I’ve been able to show victims, who for one reason or another have been taken advantage of, that the judicial system is here to help them and to serve their interests.”

His work has garnered him multiple awards. He has received the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ Excellence Award, the HHS Inspector General’s Integrity Award (2001, 2005), and was honored by R.I. Lawyer’s Weekly as one of three “Lawyers of the Year” in 2006.

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island, Matos served as Health Care Fraud Coordinator with the Office of Legal Programs within the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys in Washington, D.C. He previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, where he was recognized with the Director’s Award for Superior Achievement and the HHS Inspector General’s Integrity Award (1999). He also served as trial attorney with the Commercial Litigation Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division, where he received the Meritorious Award and the Special Act or Service Award.
After graduating from University of Connecticut School of Law, Matos was an associate with the Washington, D.C. firm of Newman & Holtzinger, P.C.

“I hope to be confirmed and I look forward to the challenge,” said Matos. “My aspiration is to add value to the governor’s selection and to do my best in this position of great honor and responsibility.”

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