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Lawyer for Carnevale seeking documents on state police pole camera system

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A lawyer for embattled former state Rep. John Carnevale has asked the state to hand over more details and documents on a pole camera system that was used by the state police to spy on the former lawmaker.

Last week, Target 12 reported hundreds of hours of video from the surreptitious recording system was recorded over. The revelation came during a court hearing on Friday where lawyers for Carnevale asked a judge for more time. The hearing was originally scheduled to inform the court if Carnevale was going to accept a plea deal or not.

In a motion “for production of records,” Carnevale’s attorney William Dimitri asked the judge to order the state to hand over “the identity of any person who ordered the installation” and removal of the pole cameras. 

He also asked for “copies of all R.I.S.P. policies and procedures relative to the collection, retention, maintenance, and/or destruction of physical, electronic or other evidence” and “whether those policies and procedures for the collection, retention, maintenance and/or destruction of evidence was followed in this case.”

Carnevale, 56, was indicted in January 2017 on three felony counts of perjury and one misdemeanor of filing a false document. Investigators said Carnevale lied to election officials while testifying under oath about where he lived and filed a false tax document to receive a lower rate for property tax by claiming he lived in the city.

He has pleaded not guilty.

In 2016 – while serving as a top Democrat in the general assembly – a Target 12 undercover investigation raised questions about whether Carnevale actually lived in the Providence district he represented.

In the wake of the report and subsequent hearings, the Providence Board of Canvassers determined Carnevale did not live in Providence and removed him from the voter rolls, which prompted the four-term Democrat to drop out of his reelection campaign.

In June, with a criminal case still pending, Carnevale announced he was seeking his old seat back, announcing a run against incumbent state Rep. Ramon Perez and another Democrat Mario Mendez.

Dimitri also asked the court to make the state hand over any information regarding “technical difficulties” the pole cameras may have had and the identity of the person who “made the determination not to back up, save, preserve or otherwise retain on any other devices” the video from the cameras.

They also sought any communications the state police had with Providence election officials and the mayor’s office during the 2016 scandal.

Last week, Judge Bennett Gallo said the attorney general’s office had to hand over any requests made by the defense within 10 days.

As Target 12 previously reported, Rhode Island State Police Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin said “we stand by the investigation and the charges brought forward against Mr. Carnevale.”

“Whatever information was lost happened in 2016 when those pole cameras were moved to another investigation because we thought the criminal investigation was over,” he added.

Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, said in an email last week that “the state is prepared to move forward with the case.”

Tim White twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Dan McGowan contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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