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State lawmaker’s company accused of fraud in West Warwick land deal

Eyewitness News Investigates

WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A landscape contractor is suing state Rep. Jared Nunes’s family business in a dispute involving access that the plaintiff claims was illegally eliminated from a piece of land.

The town of West Warwick and its finance director, John Cimino, are named in the five-count lawsuit, along with the Nunes family’s 4N Properties LLC. Corporate filings say the company is involved in “the purchase of, improvements to and sale of property.”

In an interview, Nunes said he is a partner in the company and denied that any fraud was committed. His father, Ronald, also a principal with 4N Properties, signed the purchase-and-sales agreement at issue in the suit.

Interim Town Manager Mark Carruolo said he could not comment on pending litigation, and Cimino did not return a request for comment.

4N Properties’ address is listed as 1 Nunes Lane, a stretch of asphalt owned by the Nunes family that is at the crossroads of the controversy.

In the lawsuit, Read’s Landscape Construction alleges “4N Properties illegally altered the deed,” removing Nunes Lane as a right of way to land that John Read bought for $80,000 in June 2016.

Nunes, a four-term Democrat, said nothing was “illegally altered.”

Read told Target 12 the understanding during the purchase process was that his landscaping trucks could use Nunes Lane to drive onto the property. He said he planned to build an office and garage bays on the land, but now claims that losing the right of way has restricted his ability use the land.

“Nunes Lane was always the access from the day we first came here,” Read said in an interview at the weed-covered acre. “It’s always been on every plat map. There was no inclination they were going to get rid of [Nunes Lane].”

A legal description of the property that included Nunes Lane as a right of way was approved by the town planning board in February 2016.

But about two months before the closing, a different description that omitted the right of way was recorded with the town.

While Read said he would have never bought the land without the right of way, Nunes countered that he would have never sold it with the right of way in place.

“He’s using these wild accusations to try and extort something that he never negotiated and never paid for at the time of closing,” Nunes said. “If he doesn’t like the deal, I will buy the property back from him.”

Nunes claims Read changed his mind about the size of the building he wanted on the land, and realized the bigger structure didn’t fit as well.

“He never said he wanted to use it because he didn’t need it,” Nunes said. “That changed when his building plans changed.”

Read fired back, saying his plans never changed and that Nunes bid on the building contract.

“He had to know with the way the building was going to be built, that we were using Nunes Lane,” Read said.

The lawsuit claims 4N Properties “has committed fraud” and “misrepresentation.” The town is accused of failing “to follow the correct process and procedure for abandoning a right of way.” The lawsuit states Read has suffered “irreparable harm as a result of the Defendants’ actions,” but does not state a dollar amount.

Nunes said he would ask a judge to dismiss the suit.Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter@wbuteau

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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