Judge to review ProCAP receiver’s bills after city complaints

July 1st, 2013 at 12:08 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Rhode Island Superior Court judge on Monday said he’ll review the billing data from the court-appointed receiver of Providence’s largest public welfare agency to decide whether he overcharged the city for his services.

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• Related: Taveras administration accuses ProCAP receiver of overbilling (June 17)

City accuses ProCAP receiver of overbilling

June 18th, 2013 at 11:21 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Officials in Rhode Island’s capital city are accusing the court-appointed receiver of Providence’s largest public welfare agency of overbilling for his services, has learned.

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ProCAP debt up to $2.6M as receiver finds pervasive problems

January 4th, 2012 at 2:40 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Community Action Program owed more than $2.6 million to its creditors and was on the brink of running out of cash when it sought court protection last month, its receiver said in a court filing this week.

ProCAP’s previous management ignored basic accounting standards despite warnings from its auditors and “alienated government and nonprofit agencies,” wrote Thomas Hemmendinger, the court-appointed lawyer who was made ProCAP’s permanent receiver on Wednesday after initially serving on a temporary basis.

Federal and state investigations into the nonprofit are in progress and ProCAP is cooperating, he said.

Hemmendinger’s initial report to the court on ProCAP said a host of problems “came to light” at the taxpayer-funded agency in 2011. “Before November 2011, ProCAP was poorly and inefficiently organized,” and the agency “lacked the funds to stay in operation” when it filed for receivership last month.

“ProCAP could not pay its debts as they came due, and … its financial condition was rapidly deteriorating,” Hemmendinger wrote. “Many programs operated without regard to realistic budgets. ProCAP overstaffed a number of its programs, and some employees were compensated at higher rates than customary in the industry.”


Nat. Grid shuts off heat, power at ProCAP after bills go unpaid

December 19th, 2011 at 4:07 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

One-third of its work force wasn’t the only thing the Providence Community Action Program lost on Friday. Some of the taxpayer-funded nonprofit’s buildings lost their gas and electricity, too.

National Grid shut off the heat and power at ProCAP’s Elmwood Community Center on Niagra Street on Friday, spokesman Bill Fischer confirmed in response to questions from ProCAP’s headquarters on Hartford Avenue lost heat but the power has stayed on, he said.

The new management at ProCAP, which filed for receivership and laid off 20 workers last week after discovering $2.2 million in debt, was caught off guard despite knowing the agency was behind in paying its utility bills because unilateral shutoffs aren’t supposed to happen in a receivership, Fischer said.


ProCAP lays off 20 workers, terminates Corbishley’s contract

December 16th, 2011 at 4:05 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The embattled Providence Community Action Program laid off 20 employees Friday and “ended its contractual relationship” with Frank Corbishley, who had been its executive director since 1991.

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ProCAP debt pegged at $2.2M; judge appoints receiver

December 14th, 2011 at 10:48 am by under Nesi's Notes

All the latest updates on ProCAP’s receivership filing are in our story. Check back. The hearing began just past 10:40 a.m.

Update: Thomas Hemmendinger was appointed ProCAP’s temporary receiver. More new details here.

Near-insolvency forces ProCAP board to file for receivership

December 14th, 2011 at 9:40 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Update: All the newest details here.

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Community Action Program’s board of directors voted to file for receivership, the state-law equivalent of bankruptcy, at an emergency meeting Wednesday morning.

An attorney for the taxpayer-funded nonprofit will seek to appear before a Superior Court judge on Wednesday to seek approval for the move, which would put ProCAP in the hands of a court-appointed receiver, spokesman Bill Fischer said.

The board voted 10-0 “to seek the protection of the courts through receivership” as the agency faced a severe cash shortage, Fischer said. ProCAP’s board has 15 members in total, five of whom are appointed by the mayor.

The case is set to go before Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein on Wednesday morning.


Corbishley ally Vileno got deals on home, health from ProCAP

December 6th, 2011 at 5:33 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The embattled Providence Community Action Program sold a house for half its assessed value to a veteran agency employee who is a close confidant of its suspended executive director, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

ProCAP sold the 422 Pine St. property to Joseph Vileno Jr. in April 2004 for $78,500, less than half its $159,250 assessed value at the time, tax records show. That was during a period when housing values were soaring statewide. Vileno still owns the single-family home, now assessed at $107,900.

Vileno has close ties to Frank Corbishley, who was suspended as ProCAP’s executive director last month based on allegations of “staggering mismanagement” at the taxpayer-funded nonprofit. Corbishley was Vileno’s campaign manager when Vileno ran for mayor in 1986.

“I think that it’s clear to us that this is another example of what was a very cozy relationship between this individual and Mr. Corbishley,” said Bill Fischer, a spokesman for the new management tasked with saving ProCAP. The former management is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“Mr. Corbishley was essentially running a patronage factory,” Fischer said. “There is no other way to put it.” The agency is now reviewing the 2004 property transaction, he said.

Citizens foreclosed on Vileno

Both Vileno and Corbishley have regularly listed 422 Pine St. as their addresses on campaign finance documents dating back to 2002, before ProCAP sold the house to Vileno, records reviewed by Target 12 show. Corbishley listed it as his address as recently as Sept. 30.

Vileno’s 2004 purchase of 422 Pine St. was actually the second time he bought the house. He’d previously owned it from May 1982 until Citizens Bank foreclosed on it in 1987. ProCAP bought the property from Citizens for $25,000 in September 1994, according to tax records.

The assessor’s office says 422 Pine St. is a 2,696-square-foot, 10-room old-style house built in 1900, with six bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a full basement.

Vileno was a ProCAP employee from 1997 to 2001, earning $37,130 a year as a grant-writer, Fischer told Target 12. Vileno paid $400 a month during that period to rent 422 Pine St. from ProCAP by deducting it from his paycheck, Fischer said.

In 2001, Vileno left ProCAP to work for the Cianci administration; Fischer said it’s unclear if he continued to rent the property after he left the agency. Corbishley sent Vileno a certified letter in January 2004 warning he owed ProCAP $3,200 in back rent for the property, according to Fischer.

Health benefits ‘very odd’

ProCAP gave Vileno a consulting contract in June 2006 that paid him $1,000 every two weeks plus health insurance benefits, a biweekly payment that over time increased to $1,150, Fischer said.

“It’s our understanding he was consulting around housing programs,” Fischer told Target 12. “What value Mr. Vileno was bringing to ProCAP for this level of compensation is unclear to us at this point.”

Fischer, who is now working as a consultant for ProCAP himself, said it is “very odd” for contractors to receive health benefits from a client. He said the agency is now reviewing all its contracts and plans to stop offering non-cash benefits if they are being provided. (Fischer is not receiving health insurance.)

ProCAP owes Providence taxpayers nearly $1 million for health benefits it provided its workers through the city government, reported last month.

Vileno’s financial arrangement with ProCAP ended on Nov. 1, when records show Corbishley terminated Vileno’s contract after an independent audit of the nonprofit’s spending was ordered by Providence City Council President Michael Solomon, Fischer said. Solomon joined ProCAP’s board in April 2005 and has chaired it since 2009.

No answer at door

ProCAP also made a one-time payment of $637.50 to Vileno on Oct. 18, 2004, six months after he purchased 422 Pine St. from the agency and between the two periods when it was paying him, according to records reviewed by officials there. “I don’t know what it’s for,” Fischer said of the $637.50 payment.

Corbishley and Vileno did not return multiple phone calls about 422 Pine St. No one answered its door when Target 12 visited the property last week, although Vileno’s car was parked in the driveway.

Mark Dana, Corbishley’s attorney, said his client was not available for comment.

ProCAP’s new management wasn’t aware of the 422 Pine St. transaction until Target 12 asked for information about it and is now reviewing the 2004 deal, according to Fischer. Solomon was not on the board at the time and it’s unclear whether the board was informed about the sale to Vileno.

“We’ve seen repeated examples of Mr. Corbishley not being forthcoming with board members,” Fischer said.

Taveras, state raise concerns

ProCAP is one of eight nonprofit community action program agencies in Rhode Island that handle social services, including heating-oil subsidies and housing assistance. ProCAP received 96% of its $16.4 million in revenue from taxpayers in 2009-10 and spent $420,773 on housing programs that year, according to its most recent tax return.

ProCAP and its subsidiary ProCAP Housing Inc. own 32 properties in Providence, tax records show.

ProCAP first made headlines in October when revealed growing concerns about its financial practices and Solomon’s decision to order an independent audit. Mayor Angel Taveras replaced three ProCAP board members on Nov. 15 based on the audit’s initial findings and the state has threatened to withhold millions in funding, which Solomon says jeopardizes the agency’s survival.

Fischer argued ProCAP’s decision to sell 422 Pine St. at what appears to be a deep discount to a close associate of its leader is evidence of the management practices that led the board to suspend Corbishley without pay last month. “Unfortunately, because of this type of patronage and these types of relationships, it’s led to a very dire fiscal situation at ProCAP,” he said.

Decades in Providence politics

Vileno has been involved in Providence politics for decades, most notably as an aide to former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. Cianci first hired Vileno, a city native and former U.S. Housing and Urban Development official, in 1975 to advise him on federal grants. Vileno wrote of Cianci in 2007, “I consider him a friend.”

Corbishley was one of five ProCAP employees fired from the agency in 1984, a move critics described as part of a political purge of Cianci loyalists by Joseph Paolino, who succeeded him as mayor that year. Corbishley managed Vileno’s mayoral campaign two years later, during which Vileno was strongly critical of ProCAP’s then-leader for soliciting donations to Paolino from agency employees.

Days after Vileno lost the 1986 Democratic primary to Paolino, Corbishley went to work as the spokesman for Paolino’s Republican opponent in the general election, Charles Mansolillo, another close friend of Cianci’s who later served as his city solicitor.

Corbishley was picked from a pool of 67 applicants to become ProCAP’s executive director in June 1991, the year Cianci began his second tenure as mayor. He replaced Lawrence O’Connor, who’d led the agency since 1980 and fired Corbishley in 1984. O’Connor was criticized for failing to lead the nonprofit energetically, according to published reports at the time.

Property records show both Corbishley and Vileno own additional properties. Corbishley owns a single-family home on Edgewood Boulevard in Providence, and Vileno has owned a home in Delray Beach, Fla., since 1985, property records show.

Ted Nesi ( ) covers politics and the economy for and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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

Troubled ProCAP’s spending exploded after Obama stimulus

December 1st, 2011 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Community Action Program’s spending and staffing soared in the three years leading up to last month’s allegations of “staggering mismanagement” at the taxpayer-funded nonprofit thanks to an influx of federal stimulus money.

ProCAP’s annual revenue nearly doubled from $8.5 million in 2007-08 to $14 million in 2008-09 and $16.4 million in 2009-10, federal tax filings show. Its revenue was about $12 million in 2010-11, ProCAP spokesman Bill Fischer told on Wednesday.

The documents show ProCAP’s main activities – energy subsidies, housing assistance, emergency food and substance abuse counseling – increased significantly as stimulus money arrived. The weatherization and fuel program’s budget grew from $4.7 million in 2007-08 to $11.1 million in 2009-10.

The surge in cash added a host of new jobs at ProCAP. The agency’s work force jumped from 66 employees in 2008-09 to 120 employees in 2009-10, tax filings show. ProCAP’s payroll has fallen to 58 as of this week, according to a list of employees obtained by


Cicilline dismisses Loughlin’s call for probe of city finances

November 28th, 2011 at 1:51 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Congressman David Cicilline says his 2010 Republican challenger is still fighting the last war by calling for a federal investigation into his handling of Providence’s finances when he was mayor.

Over the weekend, a spokesman for former State Rep. John Loughlin said federal prosecutors should investigate whether Cicilline knew about the capital city’s money woes, including the alleged mismanagement of the Providence Community Action Program and the high default rate on loans granted by the Providence Economic Development Partnership.

“I don’t believe Cicilline was unaware of the high default rate regarding the PDEP, or what was occurring at ProCAP,” Loughlin spokesman Mike Napolitano said. “He’s either severely incompetent or had full knowledge of what was going on, so which is it.”

Cicilline spokeswoman Nicole Kayner on Monday fired back at Loughlin, who is serving in Iraq through the end of this year and planning to challenge Brendan Doherty for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.

“The Loughlin campaign wants to rerun the last campaign but David Cicilline is now in Congress and working to create jobs and to save Medicare from efforts by some in Mr. Loughlin’s party to privatize or virtually eliminate it,” Kayner told


Peter Kilmartin gives away money from ProCAP’s Corbishley

November 28th, 2011 at 12:50 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has given two charities all the campaign cash he took from the head of the troubled Providence Community Action Program.

Kilmartin donated the $300 he received from ProCAP executive director Frank Corbishley to a pair of nonprofit organizations that help pay heating bills: the Salvation Army Good Neighbor Energy Fund and the Diocese Keep the Head On, spokeswoman Amy Kempe said Monday. ProCAP doles out fuel assistance dollars.

Corbishley, who was suspended last week over alleged financial mismanagement at ProCAP, made three donations to Kilmartin after he became a candidate for attorney general: $50 in June 2010; $150 in October 2010, when he was the Democratic nominee; and $100 last June, after he took office.


Poor-people elections and more ProCAP board mysteries

November 23rd, 2011 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

The Providence Community Action Program scandal continues to grow, with Executive Director Frank Corbishley suspended Tuesday over shredded documents and the state saying it will allocate a $5 million $1.7 million weatherization grant to Rhode Island Housing rather than ProCAP.

ProCAP’s 15-member board of directors is set to meet Wednesday to decide Corbishley’s fate and what actions they should take to save the agency from disintegrating. That raises the question: Who are these 15 people? Here are some answers.

The 15 directors serve four-year terms and are divided into three groups, according to ProCAP’s bylaws. Five are appointed by the mayor; five private-sector organizations are picked by the other directors to appoint board members; and the other five are “democratically elected by representatives of the poor” in elections run by ProCAP.

Those elections are interesting. “Poor Sector representatives need not be poor themselves, but will be nominated and elected by the poor residing in the neighborhood represented,” the bylaws say. ProCAP pays them $40 per board meeting if they “are at or below 150% of the poverty level.”


ProCAP owes Providence taxpayers, union $1.5M for benefits

November 18th, 2011 at 2:50 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Iannazzi, right, and Taveras

By Tim White and Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Community Action Program owes at least $1.5 million to the city of Providence and its largest union for health and pension benefits it never paid for, has learned.

ProCAP owes Providence’s government about $950,000 for health insurance benefits the agency provided its employees through the city, a City Hall source told The amount would be higher if the city hadn’t withheld about $100,000 from ProCAP because of its failure to reimburse the city for its insurance costs, the source said.

In addition, ProCAP owed $614,000 to the Laborers National (Industrial) Pension Fund at the end of 2009 and likely added to that liability in the two years since then, said Donald Iannazzi, business manager for Local 1033 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which represented ProCAP’s workers until February 2010.

“Over the last five or six years the relationship between my office and the [ProCAP] executive director’s office was based on acrimony,” Iannazzi told on Thursday. “It was very hostile.” Corbishley has not responded to repeated phone messages.

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Related: Taveras replaces ProCAP directors, including Narducci, amid probe (Nov. 15)

(photo: City of Providence)

Solomon: ProCAP will shut its doors unless Corbishley is fired

November 17th, 2011 at 12:16 pm by under Nesi's Notes

The Providence Community Action Program will close its doors next year unless executive director Frank Corbishley is fired, City Council President Michael Solomon told the taxpayer-funded group’s board on Wednesday after the state said it will stop funding ProCAP on Dec. 31 without changes.

The state’s warning “is a grave reminder that unless we act on our fiduciary duty as board members, this important agency faces an unprecedented funding crisis: a loss of over $10 million,” Solomon, who chairs the ProCAP board, wrote to the other directors. ProCAP “will likely have to close its doors: endangering jobs and critical services.”


Rep. Cicilline breaks silence on growing scandal at ProCAP

November 16th, 2011 at 10:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Congressman David Cicilline on Wednesday night offered his first public comments about what he called the “serious” allegations of financial mismanagement at the Providence Community Action Program.

“Those responsible for operating this agency are expected to be responsible stewards of these public funds and must be fully accountable,” Cicilline told in a statement. ProCAP’s board has “the responsibility to provide proper oversight to this organization, and the full review of the agency’s operations by them is clearly warranted,” he said.

On Tuesday, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras fired three members of the ProCAP board who were appointed by Cicilline – City Council Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas Narducci, Joseph Caffey Jr. and Raymond DeTorre Jr. – after they refused to terminate Frank Corbishley, its executive director of 20 years, over alleged management failures.

Cicilline’s statement arrived shortly after the campaigns of his two Republican opponents in next year’s congressional election weighed in on the scandal. Former State Police Col. Brendan Doherty didn’t mention Cicilline directly but said ProCAP and other scandals “have destroyed public trust in Congress and in our entire government.”


Only local Dem who didn’t keep ProCAP chief’s cash: Taveras

November 16th, 2011 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

Council President Solomon

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Community Action Program’s embattled leader donated money to Mayor Angel Taveras and City Council President Michael Solomon in recent months even as they examined alleged financial improprieties at his agency.

Taveras, however, didn’t keep the $150 contribution made to his campaign account on June 1 by ProCAP executive director Frank Corbishley. The mayor refunded the money less than three weeks later, on June 18, according to Board of Elections records.

Corbishley donated $150 to Solomon on Sept. 30, the last day for which filings are currently available. Solomon, who oversees ProCAP as chairman of its board of directors, also took a $125 contribution from the taxpayer-funded nonprofit’s longtime executive director in late 2009.

Solomon is just one of seven top Rhode Island Democrats who collected a combined $4,290 in political contributions over the past nine years from ProCAP’s executive director, who is now accused of allowing “staggering mismanagement” of the nonprofit’s finances. Taveras is the only politician who gave Corbishley his money back.


Taveras fires ProCAP directors, including Narducci, amid probe

November 15th, 2011 at 1:07 pm by under Nesi's Notes

ProCAP headquarters in Providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Mayor Angel Taveras on Tuesday sacked three members of the board at the taxpayer-funded Providence Community Action Program including a city councilman, after they refused to fire its longtime leader for alleged financial improprieties.

In a letter to Frank Corbishley, ProCAP’s executive director, Taveras called on him to resign after an audit now in progress revealed “staggering mismanagement of your agency.” Among those ousted from the board was City Council Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas Narducci, whose brother works for ProCAP, a source familiar with the matter said.

Corbishley has been ProCAP’s executive director since June 1991, according to published reports. His previous tenure at ProCAP ended in December 1984 when Mayor Joseph Paolino took office and fired five officials there close to his predecessor, Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. Corbishley returned to ProCAP when Cianci returned as mayor in 1991.

The problems at the agency first came to light in October when reported City Council President Michael Solomon, the board’s chairman, had brought in Richardson to conduct an independent audit. So far he’s discovered at least $675,092 in government funds that weren’t spent properly, according to the mayor.

Corbishley issued a statement that blasted Taveras for his “irresponsible release of information,” and said the mayor is trying to hijack control of ProCAP to help his political allies. Corbishley said there are “no ‘missing’ funds,” and blamed the recession, rising costs and a former comptroller for the “current financial concerns at ProCAP.”

No-interest loans, voided checks

ProCAP’s worsening reputation means “millions of dollars of agency funding has now been put at risk: endangering jobs, services and our poorest neighborhoods,” Taveras said. Among some of local accountant Kenneth Richardson’s initial findings, the mayor wrote to Corbishley: