Nonprofit tied to ex-Rep. Gallison accused of forging signature

Audrey Lombardo went to US Attorney after learning she was listed as board president

Former Rep. Ray Gallison is the assistant director of nonprofit Alternative Education Programming - which is located in this Washington Street office building.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The woman who said she was “shocked” to learn now-ex Rep. Ray Gallison’s nonprofit was listing her as its board president alleged Thursday her signature was forged on government documents.

Aubrey Lombardo was listed as the president of the nonprofit, Alternative Educational Programming Inc. (AEP), on the group’s three most recent federal tax returns in 2015, 2014 and 2013. Until recently she was also listed as a board member in filings with the secretary of state’s office and on the group’s website.

“Someone forged an e-signature on the IRS documents and the secretary of state documents,” Lombardo, a local attorney, told Target 12. “I never authorized someone to do it. The first time I saw them was yesterday when I pulled them up.”

Lombardo said she went to the Rhode Island U.S. attorney’s office on Wednesday afternoon after learning from Target 12 about her name being attached to AEP. Gallison – who is listed as AEP’s executive director or assistant director, depending on the document – resigned from his General Assembly seat on Tuesday as he faces an ongoing federal and state investigation.

It’s unclear if AEP is any way connected to the investigation of Gallison, who was chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee up until he resigned. The Bristol Democrat, 64, declined comment when questioned by Target 12 on Tuesday. His attorney said he couldn’t discuss the case in any detail.

Law-enforcement sources confirmed to Target 12 on Thursday that Gallison’s Bristol home was searched by investigators in March. Larry Berman, a spokesman for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, said earlier in the week investigators had not searched the State House in connection with Gallison.

Berman said when they asked Gallison to return his state-issued laptop, they were told he couldn’t.

“We were informed it is no longer in his possession it was taken by authorities,” said Berman, adding about a dozen laptops are issued to lawmakers.

Jim Martin, a spokesman for Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha, declined to comment.

An employee at the office of Luigi Fiore, a Providence accountant who is listed as having prepared AEP’s last three tax returns, said Fiore was not immediately available for comment. The tax returns say Gallison controlled AEP’s accounting books.

The URL for AEP’s website, which had been active as recently as Wednesday, was no longer working on Thursday. Gallison is listed as the website’s administration on its official internet registration, which dates back to 2005.

Last month, AEP filed an amended annual report with the secretary of state’s office listing an entirely new board of directors, including a new president – Mary Ellen Raposa – and three other new members: Marjorie Levesque, Thomas Upchurch and Richard Gottlieb.

Another of the individuals who said he was surprised to learn he’d been listed as an AEP board member, Central Falls School Superintendent Vic Capellan, said he contacted his lawyer after learning about the situation. “I want to make sure my name is completely removed from any of that,” he said.

Gallison’s resignation has triggered new questions about AEP, which to pay its bills has relied almost entirely on at least $1.7 million in taxpayer grants authorized by the legislature over the last decade. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Tuesday he now thinks it was not appropriate for a state legislator to be earning a salary from an organization so dependent on such grants.

Asked in a legislative questionnaire last month what sources of funding the group other than the community-service grant, Raposa replied: “None.”

Lawmakers authorized $11.6 million in community-service grants in the current 2015-16 budget. Berman, Mattiello’s spokesman, said community-service grants do not have individual sponsors.

AEP’s registered agent on its filing with the secretary of state was listed as Rhonda Price, founder of The Man Up Project, a nonprofit now formally affiliated with AEP. The General Assembly awarded a new $30,000 community-service grant to Man Up in 2014, the year Gallison took the helm at House Finance. That was in addition to the roughly $70,000 grant separately awarded to AEP.

No one answered the phone at Price’s office midday Thursday.

Jason Grammitt, a staff attorney for the R.I. Ethics Commission, said Wednesday he could neither confirm nor deny whether law enforcement have requested copies of Gallison’s financial disclosures from his agency.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @TimWhiteRI

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Jared Pliner contributed to this report.

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