Providence building official resigns amid retaliation complaint

Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Providence building official has resigned from his job after he was accused of using his position with the city to retaliate against the owner of a property he attempted to purchase last year, Eyewitness News has learned.

In a complaint filed with the Providence Ethics Commission, building official David Rodio was accused of issuing a “notice of violation” against the owners of a property at 22 Raritan Avenue, a three-family home off of Manton Avenue that was built by Rodio’s grandfather and sold last year to SJ Partners Providence.

The complaint states that Rodio acted “as the de facto owner” of the property for the last 10 years and unsuccessfully attempted to purchase it last year. One of the floors was rented to his son until SJ Partners evicted him, according to the complaint.

In December, Rodio issued a notice accusing SJ Partners of two violations for having retaining walls that “are in hazardous conditions and structurally unsound due to neglect and maintenance.” Listing himself as the inspector, Rodio informed SJ Partners it would face fines of $50 a day for each violation if they failed to comply with the notice within 30 days.

“Mr. Rodio has deep and personal connections to the Raritan Avenue property, recently tried to buy the property, and is using his official position with the city of Providence to advance his interests,” the complaint states.

Reached Wednesday evening, Rodio declined to comment. Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza, confirmed Rodio resigned from his job.

The city’s Ethics Commission, which has been impaneled since 2015 but has received only one other complaint, voted Wednesday to proceed with a probable cause hearing on the matter. It’s unclear if Rodio’s resignation will prevent the commission from taking action against him.

Payroll records show Rodio has worked for the city since 1993. As a building official, he earned $86,000 a year.

The complaint claims the property was built by Rodio’s grandfather in 1940 and then passed through inheritance to Rodio’s mother and her sister. For 10 years, Rodio and his wife would “collect rents, pay the taxes, pay the insurance and maintain the property as their own and for the benefit of their son” until it was purchased by SJ Partners in 2017.

SJ Partners does not appear to be registered as a corporation with the R.I. Secretary of State’s office, but lists its address as 2139 Broad Street in Cranston. The law firm that filed the complaint, Rodio and Brown, Ltd., has the same address.

“A Providence building official that attempts to purchase property in Providence, and, when rejected, drafts and issues an official notice of violation, has committed what would appear to be a textbook example of official misconduct,” the complaint states.

Continue the discussion on FacebookDan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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