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Feds conducting review amid resignation of Providence city official

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. Department of Labor is conducting an audit in connection with the resignation of a city director, city officials confirmed Tuesday.

City Council Finance Chairman John Igliozzi told Target 12 he has already been interviewed by a special agent from the racketeering and fraud unit in the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.

Igliozzi said the agent was conducting a review related to Brian Hull, the director of the Office of Economic Opportunity and the executive director of the Workforce Solutions Board of Providence/Cranston. Hull resigned on Friday.

“We need to understand what’s happening there,” Igliozzi said at a Finance Commitee meeting Tuesday night. “What’s happening with the federal investigation gives me great, great concern.”

The Workforce Solutions Board, which receives federal funds from the Department of Labor, provides a “one-stop” center for job seekers in both Providence and Cranston.

Target 12 previously reported that Hull was placed on leave after signing a multimillion-dollar agreement to lease a building on Federal Hill, months before the city put the lease out to bid.

Hull, who was earning $102,000 per year, was allowed to return to work in February after 17 days on unpaid leave.

Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza, confirmed city staff was contacted last week by the Department of Labor about an audit review, and said the city is complying. She did not immediately have any further information on what specifically the federal officials were looking into and what information or documents the city provided.

Igliozzi said he provided the special agent with documents from two Finance Committee hearings about the no-bid lease deal earlier this year. He said the city would conduct its own audit into both the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Workforce Solutions Board. Internal Auditor Gina Costa said the city has hired outside firm Blum Shapiro to conduct the audit.

Costa said the city’s audit goes beyond the no-bid lease deal, focusing on “grant compliance” and “time and attendance.”

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Igliozzi asked the city’s chief of policy, Diana Perdomo, to instruct staffers not to destroy any records or emails.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

Walt Buteau and Dan McGowan contributed to this report.

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

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