NBC 10 I-Team: Elections complaint filed against Providence city councilor

Luis Aponte (WJAR)

There’s a problem with at least one signature, said Pedro Espinal a Democratic candidate for Providence city council. “There’s no way this young lady signed this form,” he said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Espinal, filed a complaint with the Providence Board of Canvassers against his opponent, councilman Luis Aponte, alleging the embattled politician did not collect the signature himself as he attested to on his nomination papers for office.

Espinal provided copies of Aponte’s and Espinal’s nomination sheets to the I-Team for review. At issue, said the challenger, is line 11 and the name Toni Manar from 167 Massachusetts Avenue.

Espinal also had his nomination papers signed by Manar, a 23-year-old woman in his neighborhood, who he said he’s known for years. He is asking the Board of Canvassers to throw out all of the signatures on the page where Manar's signature appears.

Comparing the signature on Aponte’s form against Espinal’s, the signatures do not appear to match.

Espinal is adamant that Manar signed his papers in front of him, as his wife looked on.

Clarisa Espinal confirmed for the I-Team that Toni Manar signed her husband’s nomination papers.

Aponte’s paperwork has four signatures from 167 Massachusetts Ave. “Someone at that address signed for everybody else,” said Espinal, who contends that Aponte committed perjury by signing the nomination papers.

Candidates sign under oath that they witnessed voters actually sign in their presence.

Aponte is running for re-election under the cloud of a criminal probe, civil judgments and ethics violations over the span of two years.

Last May he was indicted in Superior Court in Providence on four criminal counts (two felonies, two misdemeanors) including: unlawful appropriation of money from his campaign account, embezzlement from his campaign account and unlawful use of his campaign finance funds.

He stepped down from his role as council president, but maintained his innocence and retained his seat.

Aponte told the I-Team he collected all the signatures himself. “She signed, her dad and her mom. I went back to the home to get her sister’s signature,” said Aponte.

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