North Providence Google funds on hold

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. Department of Justice has frozen North Providence’s piece of a $230 million settlement involving tech-giant Google as part of an ongoing audit.

The town was awarded $60 million as part of the settlement. As part of the deal, a governing body is supposed to approve any proposed expenditure before it is sent to the Department of Justice for approval. However, the town council president says that has not been happening. The funds have already been used to purchase new police cruisers, fill a pension gap and construct a firing range.

Now, the town council president and the police chief say the money is frozen until a person is designated to approve purchases.

“We know the governing body hasn’t been approving expenditures. The Department of Justice must have felt they should come in and see what’s actually being expended,” said Kristen Catanzaro of the North Providence Town Council.

Eyewitness News spoke with the town’s police chief over the phone who says he’s been getting approval from the mayor, who he believes is the governing body.

But Cantanzaro disagreed.

“You get to have your voice heard in front of the council. If it’s being approved by just a police chief and a mayor, they don’t comply with open meeting laws. They just get to sign off on it and then someone reads about it in the newspaper. We spent money and that’s wrong,” said Cantanzaro.

The North Providence Town Council will discuss the issue at a meeting Tuesday night.

Council members say whatever the Department of Justice audit finds, the town is not in danger of losing the settlement money.

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