PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Residents in Providence’s House District 13 say they’ve received a letter claiming that former state Rep. John Carnevale is running to win back the office he lost after city officials determined he did not live in the district.
“Even though I worked on several statewide issues, I found it just as rewarding keeping you informed,” the letter reads in part. “I also enjoyed working on the everyday quality of life issues that affect our neighborhood. I will be walking about our neighborhood in the near future and hope to speak with you about the issues that impact you.”
Carnevale has not yet returned a request for comment on his potential candidacy. The letter was first reported by the website Uprise RI.
Carnevale ended his re-election campaign in July 2016 after a Target 12 investigation raised serious questions about whether he lived at a two-family home on Barbara Street in his district, or rather at a single-family home he owned in Johnston that’s located in House District 44.
That Target 12 report eventually led to a state police investigation, and Carnevale was charged with three counts of perjury and one charge of filing false documents. Carnevale pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in January 2017. He is due back in court for a pretrial conference later this month.
The three perjury charges – all felonies – stem from statements Carnevale made to the Providence Board of Canvassers as they tried to determine whether he was an eligible voter in Providence. Prosecutors claim he knowingly made false statements regarding his residence for voting purposes, rental income he earned at a property in Johnston, and his use of the first-floor apartment on Barbara Street.
Prosecutors also allege Carnevale filed a false document with the city when he received an owner-occupied tax break on the property.
The secretary of state’s office said a John Carnevale has registered to vote at 150 Barbara St., Floor One in Providence. Property records indicate Carnevale sold his Johnston home on June 1 for $275,000.
This year’s candidate declaration period in Rhode Island is June 25 to 27, which is when Carnevale would need to file if he wants to run. The seat is currently held by Democratic Rep. Ramon Perez, who said Friday he will seek re-election regardless of whether Carnevale is a candidate.
Asked whether Carnevale should run, Perez shrugged. “What can I say?” he said. “He hasn’t been found guilty of anything yet. It’s for the court to say.”
But asked if he believes Carnevale lives at 150 Barbara St., Perez laughed. “Of course not,” he said. “Everybody knows he doesn’t live there.”
Perez suggested Carnevale will have a better chance of winning if multiple Latino candidates run, splitting the Hispanic vote. He also acknowledged that many voters shrugged off Carnevale’s 2016 residency controversy when he knocked doors then, but he said things may be different now.
“The first time I was running people didn’t really care,” Perez said. “He always answered their calls. I’m trying to be like that.” However, Perez added, “He’s been two years out. The district has changed too much.”
Another candidate, Mario Méndez, has already said he will challenge Perez in the Democratic primary.
Dan McGowan contributed to this report.