Laufton Ascencao, a one-time rising star among progressive Democrats in Rhode Island who won a state representative seat in 2018, has been charged with felony embezzlement, Attorney General Peter Neronha said Tuesday.

In a statement, Neronha’s office said Ascencao was charged by criminal information with embezzling money “from the Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club, as well as failing to report campaign expenditures on campaign finance filings and failing to appoint a treasurer to certify his campaign filings in 2017 and 2018.”

Neronha’s office said the information, filed in Providence County Superior Court on April 16, “alleges that Ascencao, without authorization, diverted $16,379 from the checking account of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club while he was serving as treasurer of that organization. Ascencao used the money to pay for expenses during his 2018 campaign for state representative of House District 68, which includes portions of Bristol and Warren.”

Ascencao won an open seat in 2018 after former Rep. Ken Marshall, a Democrat, decided not to seek re-election. At the time, Ascencao was part of a group of progressives making inroads in the General Assembly, and he had worked for the advocacy group RI Working Families.

But Ascencao ran into trouble after failing to follow through on a pledge to the Warren Democratic Town Committee to send a mailer on behalf of some local candidates that year.

Ascencao acknowledged trying to cover up his broken promise to the Warren Democrats.

“It was a dumb thing to do and I’m incredibly sorry,” he said at the time. “I let this deception go on for far too long. As part of this, I showed them a copy of the mailer that I had drafted, a mock invoice that was dated for November 10th, and a photo of a check I wrote. In reality, at no point was any expense accrued, any order placed, or any check mailed. I just couldn’t bring myself to admit I had let them down.”

Ascencao wound up stepping down from the seat he won in 2018 before being sworn in. Rep. June Speakman (D-Warren) then landed the seat in a special election.

 According to Neronha’s office, Ascencao is alleged to have committed four new campaign finance violations.

“Three alleged violations are based on Ascencao’s failure to report expenditures on his campaign finance filing with the Rhode Island Board of Elections, which total approximately $3,357 and consist of payments to his campaign manager and a purchase of campaign palm cards,” the AG’s office said in a statement. “By not reporting these expenditures, Ascencao intended to hide the fact that the funds came from the checking account of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club.”

Ascencao is also accused of not appointing a campaign treasurer, as required by law, “to certify his campaign finance filings associated with his 2018 campaign.”

He is scheduled to be arraigned in Providence County Superior Court on July 15.