NBC 10 I-Team: Vinny Paz’s alleged victim says, 'I’m not a thief'
In January, former boxing champ Vinny Paz faced TV cameras and reporters as he shuffled out of Providence district court, charged with assaulting a former friend.
“I am the innocent one. I got robbed,” Paz told reporters.
Nathanael Lavoie, 34, of Providence, is the man Paz pointed the finger at. He also happens to be the person the former boxer tussled with early on January 2. Paz was jailed. His once prized fists were seen in courtroom photos locked up in handcuffs.
Pictures provided to the NBC 10 I-Team by Lavoie show his black eye swollen shut. His teeth are knocked out. Dry blood was splattered all around his apartment kitchen.
“It was pretty bad. It wasn't my blood, it was his blood. Because when he bleeds, especially when he's drinking, it goes out,” said Lavoie, making a downward gesture from his nose with both hands.
Lavoie reached out to clear his name, he said. Paz called him a thief and accused him of stealing $16,000 in cash from the champ's Warwick home.
Parker Gavigan: “Did you steal $16,000 from Vinny?
Lavoie: “Absolutely not.”
Parker Gavigan: “Have you stolen any money from Vinny Paz?”
Lavoie: “Absolutely not. I've borrowed money from Vinny and I've paid him back.”
Lavoie recalled a better time when he and Paz were friends. They hung out. They partied together. He felt joy, he said, when Paz’s life story made it to the big screen in the movie "Bleed for This."
But all that went south on January 2.
Lavoie and his girlfriend, Mindy Baptista, heard loud bangs on their door after midnight. An angry Vinny and his girlfriend Alexis Kooger rushed in, said Lavoie.
“He got in my face and sucker shotted me and I was a little bit shocked. Wow, that just came out of nowhere. He's fast. It immediately shut my eye. He's 55 years old and still got it," Lavoie said.
Lavoie told the NBC 10 I-Team he defended himself.
“I cold clocked him, too, and that's how he got the broken nose," he said.
Paz and Kooger fled. The former boxing champ turned himself in after the Providence Police Department issued an arrest warrant. He was charged with one count of assault and released. Paz was ordered to have no contact with Lavoie.
On his way to a car, Paz again called Lavoie a liar.
“Soon, I'll get you all together and you'll see what happened," Paz told reporters.
Lavoie has had his own run-ins with police and has spent time behind bars for severely beating, coincidentally his current girlfriend. His rap sheet is long and he knows it.
“I'm glad I went to prison because it opened my eyes,” he said. “I’ve actually been a month clean. So, I feel clear headed. I feel great, but I still have a long road ahead of me.”
After Paz's arrest, Kooger allegedly sent nasty text messages to Lavoie and his girlfriend.
“Wow you guys were at the casino last night. Wonder where you got the money to blow at twin rivers (sic) casino…total losers. Truth will always shine through…drug addict pieces of garbage. Maybe you guys will OD on some drugs with Vinny's money" said the texts shown to the NBC 10 I-Team.
Mindy Baptista, Lavoie’s girlfriend, also showed them to a judge. It was enough to grant a restraining order against Kooger.
Paz declined to talk to NBC 10 for this story. He still insists Lavoie is a liar and responded on Twitter.
Lavoie, in turn, has a message for his old friend.
“I forgive you,” he said.
Paz went to Warwick Police and filed a break in complaint for the missing cash. Lavoie said he answered questions from detectives and insists on the night Paz was allegedly robbed he was at the Dark Lady bar in Providence. The NBC 10 I-Team talked to the owner, who turned over surveillance video to police as an alibi of sorts for Lavoie. The 34-year-old had his teeth fixed. He just got a job waiting tables and said he’d be long gone from Rhode Island if he took Paz’s money.
“Really, I’m eating ramen noodles," Lavoie said.
Paz is due back in court in early April.