Selectmen to address I-Team investigation into town official - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Selectmen to address I-Team investigation into town official

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The NBC 10 I-Team has learned that Freetown selectmen will take up allegations raised during a series of recent I-Team reports on town building inspector and health agent Paul Bourgeois.

Bourgeois is paid $75,000 a year and has been on the job for nearly 20 years. Some taxpayers reached out to the I-Team with concerns about the building official.

"He threatened me over the phone," said 76-year-old Lois Huntress.

"It was the most horrible experience working with someone who was such a bully toward me," business owner Rosemarie Walsh said.

Bourgeois didn't want to give his side of the story to the I-Team last week, but he will have to answer to his bosses Monday night at a Board of Selectmen meeting.

At issue, besides the building inspector's alleged attitude, is his other job, which some in town say puts him to too close the contractors he's paid to supervise.

The I-Team found public records showing Bourgeois buying and selling real estate over the years, dozens of properties in town and nearby.

In one case, Bourgeois and his partner made a $160,000 profit after flipping a piece of land originally owned by the wife of Freetown builder Robert Viana. The I-Team discovered that Bourgeois continued to issue Viana permits in town on other projects.

"Bourgeois threw away all the applications. We can prove he threw away the applications," Rhode Islander real estate developer Michael Kent said last week.

The developer is trying to build a subdivision of 12 new homes and said he met resistance early on from the building inspector. Only one home is finished after six years.

Kent sued Freetown and Bourgeois, telling the I-Team that Freetown has spent about $45,000 in taxpayer money for legal fees.

Selectmen are expected to take up the most recent allegations against the building inspector at 6 p.m. Monday.

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    About the I-Team

    NBC 10's I-Team was the first investigative unit in Rhode Island.

    Formed in 1979, the I-Team has produced award-winning investigations into organized crime, public corruption and social issues ranging from child abuse to battered women.

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    Parker Gavigan is an Associated Press award-winning journalist, and was named to the NBC 10 I-Team in January 2013. Parker digs deeper to get the answers that matter to you.
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