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Former lawmaker accused of fraud in land deal granted extra time to seek high court appeal

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Minus the verbal fireworks of a previous hearing, a former Rhode Island lawmaker’s company was given two additional weeks to request consideration from the R.I. Supreme Court before a roadblock of boulders has to be moved.

The hearing was the latest legal skirmish provoked by a soured 2016 West Warwick land deal between John Read’s Landcape Construction and 4N Properties, run by former state Rep. Jared Nunes and his family.

Read’s company filed a lawsuit in 2017 alleging 4N committed fraud and misrepresentation by altering a deed to remove Nunes Lane as a right of way to the land he purchased from 4N.

Read said his goal was to move and expand his business on the Industrial Lane parcel, insisting he needed access to the property from Nunes Lane due to the size of his vehicles.

In a 2017 affidavit, Nunes asserted he “clearly expressed to [Read Landscaping] that it would not have access to Nunes Lane, a private right-of-way,” before the sale closed in 2016.

On Friday, Judge Richard Licht denied the 4N motion to stay his order to remove the jersey barriers and stretch of boulders along Read’s land by July 27.

Licht did give 4N until August 9 to ask the R.I. Supreme Court to consider his appeal of the partial judgment in the lawsuit.

Read, who is also seeking damages from 4N for the delay caused by the roadblock, took a shot a Nunes’ previous position on Smith Hill, insisting 4N needs the road as much as he does.

“It has to be used by him to get to his own lot in the back,” Read said. “I guess Mr. Nunes learned this by being a state rep. How to waste money and time, because that’s all this is.”

Nunes was a four-term state representative until he decided not to run for reelection last year.

In June, when Licht upheld his May 13 order for 4N to move the obstructions, he also scolded Nunes’ attorney David Campbell for his courtroom demeanor.

“You be quiet,” Licht told Campbell after one interruption during last month’s hearing. “Stand at the podium, and don’t cross your arms.”

The tension continued.

“If you walk away one more time when I’m talking to you,” Licht said, raising his voice, “if you walk away one more time, I’ve had it with you, Mr. Campbell.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is NUNES-ROAD-BLOCK.00_00_19_13.Still003.jpg

A Target 12 camera was not allowed in the courtroom for that hearing on the request of Read’s attorney, but at one point, Licht told Campbell he regretted that.

“I wish we had a video camera to show your disrespect for this courtroom,” Licht said.

Nunes did not attend Friday’s hearing and Campbell chose not to comment on the dispute.

In his most recent motion, Campbell argued staying the order would have minimal impact.

“[Read Landscaping] will suffer no harm,” Campbell wrote. “4NP will suffer irreparable harm [if the blockade is moved] and 4NP is likely to prevail on the merits of the appeal of the injunction.”

Campbell also stated the Reads have had access to the lot from Industrial Lane, but “simply” chose to continue business “from their existing location.”

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at and follow him on Twitter@wbuteau.

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