Jeff Britt, a former campaign operative for Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, rejected Tuesday a plea deal from state prosecutors, setting the state for a potentially dramatic trial that could take place ahead of the November election.

Britt made his appearance in Kent County Superior Court in Warwick before Judge Daniel Procaccini via video link from his home in Florida.

Prosecutor John M. Moreira outlined the state’s offer as part of a plea deal: a five-year sentence, with 18 months to serve, on a felony count of money laundering, and a $2,000 fine. On a less serious charge, of making a prohibited campaign contribution, the state proposed a suspended sentence.

The decision to reject the plea was announced by Britt’s lawyer, former U.S. attorney for Rhode Island Robert Clark Corrente.

Speaking outside of court, Corrente called the proposed plea “silly” because, he said, analogous cases involving similar financial charges and first-time offenses do not involve prison time.

Asked why Britt decided to go to trial, Corrente said, “He doesn’t think the state will be able to show that he committed any crime and we thought that the state’s offer to resolve the case was unwarranted under the circumstances.”

Corrente said Britt’s intention is to waive his right to a jury trial, meaning that Procaccini would consider the evidence and decide the verdict.

Corrente said he expects a trial to occur this fall, possibly before the November election.

Potential witnesses in the case include Mattiello and other Statehouse figures.

Britt was indicted last year in connection with Mattiello’s 2016 re-election campaign, when the speaker beat his GOP, Steve Frias, opponent by 85 votes.

While Corrente at the time said Britt was a fall guy, Britt is accused of funneling about $1,000 to help former Mattiello rival Shawna Lawton endorse the speaker through a campaign mailer.

Britt is a storied political operative who has worked for a number of prominent Rhode Island politicians over the years, encompassing both Republicans and Democrats.

Britt's next court appearance, a status conference, is scheduled for August 20.

Ian Donnis covers politics for The Public’s Radio and can be reached at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org