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City Council formally vacates convicted councilman’s seat

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence City Council formally accepted the resignation of disgraced councilman Luis Aponte on Friday, in a brief special meeting that interrupted the council’s August recess.

Aponte submitted his resignation on Tuesday after pleading no contest the previous day to felony embezzlement. The charge was based on his using nearly $14,000 worth of campaign donations on personal expenses.

The council also voted to declare vacant the Ward 10 seat Aponte occupied for two decades. They then called for a special election to be held within 90 days.

“It’s a really sad day for us in the city of Providence and for the Providence City Council,” Council President Sabina Matos said. “We take no pleasure in this situation that’s happening right now.”

Reached outside his home on Friday, Aponte declined to comment on the resignation or his plans for the future.

“Take care now,” he told Target 12 as he got into his car and drove off.

Rhode Island law requires convicted felons who are elected officials to leave office, and it was also a condition of Aponte’s probation. His 4.5-year sentence was suspended, meaning he will serve no jail time unless he violates his probation.

Another condition of Aponte’s probation is to file any outstanding campaign finance reports within 90 days, according to the attorney general’s office.

Aponte has a past due report from the second quarter of 2017, and the Board of Elections campaign finance director said he did not file his second quarter 2019 report that was due on Wednesday. (If the report does arrive with a postmark on or before July 31, it will be counted as on time.)

Board of Elections executive director Bob Rapoza said tentative dates for the special election would be sent to the Providence Board of Canvassers on Monday.

Two candidates, Pedro Espinal and Monica Huertas, have already declared their candidacies to represent Ward 10. The Boston Globe also reports that Natalia Rosa Sosa and Orlando Correa are considering running.

Espinal lost to Aponte in last year’s Democratic primary by 24 votes.

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

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Providence

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