Shared from the 1/29/2020 The Providence Journal eEdition

As probe begins, convention center worker seeks exit

Assistant general manager, suspended with Mattiello ally, wants to ‘keep her business private,’ lawyer says

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Mattiello

PROVIDENCE — The state police have begun investigating the circumstances under which the General Assembly ordered a performance audit of the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority after an ally of House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello and another worker were suspended from their jobs there, according to an official at the convention center.

Meanwhile, the other worker, the facility’s assistant general manager, is negotiating her departure from her job, according to her lawyer.

“She’s in the process of parting ways,” Preston W. Halperin, lawyer for Amanda Marzullo Wilmouth, told The Providence Journal on Tuesday afternoon. “My goal is to help my client achieve a peaceful separation.”

Wilmouth and James Demers, the convention center’s head of security, have been suspended since last month by their employer, ASM Global, a Los Angeles-based management company that handles day-to-day operations of the convention center and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on behalf of the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority.

James P. McCarvill, executive director of the convention center authority, has described Demers as a friend and neighbor of Mattiello and has said Demers and Wilmouth were involved in a personnel situation that was personal and not financial.

McCarvill said the state police interviewed him at about noon Tuesday. Troopers told him that he could divulge that he was interviewed as part of the investigation, but cautioned him against saying anything more.

The convention center authority, in a letter last Friday signed by McCarvill and by authority Chairman Bernard V. Buonanno Jr., asked the state police to investigate the performance audit, which has since been canceled.

“As you are no doubt aware, the Rhode Island Convention Center was recently threatened with an audit by the auditor general, supposedly at the direction of the Joint Committee on Legislative Services,” the letter says. “We have since learned that the JCLS did not authorize that audit.”

The letter goes on to say, “The Convention Center Authority requests a formal investigation by the state police into the nexus of this request, the motivation behind it and if any laws were broken in the process.”

Mattiello has publicly acknowledged that he ordered the audit without a formal vote of the legislative services committee.

On Friday, Mattiello, through spokesman Larry Berman, criticized the authority for contacting the state police.

“It’s a baseless request,” Mattiello said. “Obviously, the Convention Center Authority does not want anyone looking at its financial records. The taxpayers were responsible for $28.4 million in support for the Convention Center in 2019 and $255 million in the last 10 years. Why is the Authority so opposed to having a performance audit done?”

A letter purportedly from Wilmouth that has been the subject of published reports described a love affair between her and Demers that turned bad.

Lawyer Halperin declined to comment on the relationship between the two convention center employees and would not say whether the published letter was genuine.

“There are inaccuracies that appear in the letter itself,” Halperin said. “We do not know how that letter got into the public domain. I can assure you it did not come from my client, Amanda.”

Halperin declined to say more about Wilmouth’s employment with ASM Global. “We’re working, hopefully, cooperatively,” he said. “We’re trying to not be in a story. She’d prefer to keep her business private.”

A spokeswoman for ASM Global declined to comment on whether the company is negotiating with Wilmouth.

The Journal reached out to Demers for comment but did not immediately hear back. pparker@ providencejournal.com

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