I-Team: City board member allegedly commits voter fraud
Alberto Guzman is a Providence businessman.
He's had his picture taken with the governor and the mayor of Providence. He served on the powerful loan committee for the city's Economic Development Partnership, deciding which businesses get taxpayer backed loans.
And until Monday, according to the letter of the law, he was committing voter fraud.
The NBC 10 I-Team approached Guzman at his business, AG Services LLC.
Gavigan: "Why do you vote here in Providence when you don't live in Providence?"
Guzman: "Well, I've been in Providence ever since I came to the United States from the Dominican Republic. I work in Providence. I'm involved in civil matters, sports matters, everything that I do is in Providence, so I consider myself to be from Providence."
Town records confirm that Guzman's legal residence is in North Smithfield at a home on Douglas Pike. He's been there for more than 10 years.
According to his voting records, which were signed and filed with the Providence Board of Canvassers, he lives in Providence at 1214 Broad Street. The building is his insurance and accounting business. According to the records, he's voted from Precinct 2832 in 10 elections since 2000, including primaries.
Gavigan: "It's illegal."
Guzman: "Well you tell me what's illegal. I'm going to vote for somebody in North Smithfield that I don't even know, when I know everybody in Providence."
John Marion, the executive director of Common Cause RI, a political watchdog group, said the question of residency is absolutely clear cut.
You vote where you reside, not at your place of business. It's both a state felony and a federal crime," Marion said.
The I-Team also discovered Guzman was arrested in June 2012, accused of writing a bad check for real estate taxes in North Smithfield. The bad check was Guzman's second in two years, according to the tax collector's office.
The case wasn't prosecuted after he paid the bill. Guzman said a child support issue came up with his ex-wife in Florida.
"They froze my account. I wrote a check to the town of North Smithfield for the taxes and the checked bounced," Guzman said.
However, the I-Team also found Guzman has not paid his taxes at all this year, owing both North Smithfield and Providence a total of $9,920 including penalties.
"If he conducts his personal affairs in a way that reflects that he doesn't understand the consequences of not paying his taxes, it really calls into question his judgment in being able to evaluate somebody in their capacity to pay back a loan," said Marion, referring to Guzman's former role as a city loan committee member.
After being approached by the I-Team, Guzman has since changed his voter registration to reflect his North Smithfield address. He has also stepped down from the PEDP.
"As a Providence business owner, Mr. Guzman met the criteria to serve on the PEDP board and its loan committee. Mayor Taveras was not aware of Mr. Guzman's voting in the city or his personal legal issues. Given this new information, it is not appropriate for Mr. Guzman to continue serving on the PEDP loan committee and Mayor Taveras has accepted his resignation," said David Ortiz, the mayor's spokesman.
Guzman has not been charged in connection with his voting record.