PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence City Councilman Luis Aponte has agreed to pay a $1,500 fine to the state following a Rhode Island Ethics Commission investigation into his 2016 vote to rezone an East Side property owned by his landlord at the time.
The commission voted 6-0 to enter into a settlement with the Democratic councilman, avoiding a public adjudication process. Three commission members, M. Therese Antone, John Lynch Jr. and Arianne Corrente, were absent.
In addition to admitting that he violated the state’s code of ethics, Aponte also confirmed he does not intend to appeal a Superior Court decision dismissing his lawsuit against the commission. The councilman argued he had “absolute legislative immunity” from the commission.
- More: Ethics Commission finds probable cause in Aponte case
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The complaint, filed by city resident Allen Hance, accused Aponte of having a “business associate relationship” with Keith Fernandes at the time Fernandes asked the council to rezone a property on Doyle Avenue. Aponte lived in another property owned by Fernandes at the time of the vote, but has since moved to another location.
Both Aponte and Fernandes have long denied they are in business together. Aponte has repeatedly said he was unaware Fernandes was seeking a zoning variance and Fernandes said he intentionally did not have conversations with members of the City Council to “keep politics out of it.”
In 2005, Aponte was fined $7,500 for failing to file a mandatory annual financial disclosure form.
The commission’s probe is unrelated to the criminal charges Aponte is currently facing for allegedly misusing his campaign account. He has pleaded not guilty. He resigned from his position as president of the City Council last Mayor, but remains a member of the council.