Target 12

Carnevale cuffed, begins sentence in perjury case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Once a powerful lawmaker on Smith Hill, John Carnevale was taken into custody Wednesday to begin serving his nine-month sentence on home confinement.

The former vice chairman of the House Finance Committee for Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Carnevale pleaded no contest to a single count of perjury earlier this month after cutting a deal with prosecutors. As part of the agreement, two other perjury counts were dropped as was a misdemeanor charge of filing a false document.

Carnevale, 56, was placed into handcuffs and led from the courtroom after declining to say anything before the sentence was imposed by Judge Bennett Gallo.

Carnevale will serve a five-year sentence, with nine months on home confinement and the rest on probation. In court, Judge Gallo said Carnevale did not present a public safety risk and qualified for the R.I. Department of Corrections' "community confinement" program.

"However, I also find simple probation would not be an appropriate sentence under the circumstance of this case," Gallo said.

With his sentencing, the criminal case against Carnevale has officially come to a close. He was indicted in January 2017, months after being kicked off the Providence voter rolls following days of hearings before the city's Board of Canvassers. The panel determined Carnevale was not being honest about where he lived.

The hearings were launched in the wake of a 2016 Target 12 investigation that questioned if the lawmaker actually lived at a Barbara Street home in the district he had represented since 2009.

Carnevale's attorney, William Dimitri, said sentencing was a difficult day for his client.

"I’m sure he's had better days but he's prepared for it," Dimitri said, again declining to say where Carnevale would serve his home confinement. "He deserves his privacy. He's been in the public eye for a long time, especially since his indictment."

As Target 12 reported on Monday, inmates sentenced to home confinement are required to spend their first night at the Adult Correctional Institution. A court spokesperson confirms Judge Gallo did not waive the overnight requirement, meaning Carnevale will spend Wednesday night at the intake center of the prison.

It is expected that Carnevale will then be fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet, so officials can track his movements.

Carnevale is required to be employed while on home confinement, and not by a family member. Dimitri said Carnevale does have employment but did not want to say where it was.

A prison spokesperson said Carnevale can have visitors while at home, but as long as they aren't a convincted felon.

Dimitri said Carnevale will be eligible to seek early release through parole in three months but he doesn't think the state will grant the request because of the publicity his case generated.

In June, Carnevale had announced he was going to seek his old seat back and received the local Democratic Party endorsement in House District 13. But the perjury conviction ended his comeback chances and the secretary of state's office said his name will be removed from the Sept. 12 primary ballot.

"When elected officials lie, whether it be to a public body like the Board of Canvassers or the people they are elected to serve, it erodes the public’s faith in all government," Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, himself a former lawmaker, said in a statement when Carnevale changed his plea.

"Despite this defendant’s arrogance and attitude that he was untouchable, today’s plea proves just the opposite - no one is above the law," Kilmartin continued. "It is my hope that today’s plea will help restore some of the public’s trust, knowing that police and prosecutors will continue to hold our public officials accountable for their actions."

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

Ted Nesi and Dan McGowan contributed to this report.


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