Cranston bills tied to police cases could hit $1M

Many Cranston police officers have been put on paid leave for various reasons over the past few months.

The Cranston City Council received an update Monday night on legal costs related to cases involving police officers.

The bill so far in the case against Capt. Stephen Antonucci, who Mayor Allan Fung wants to fire over a parking ticket scandal, is now about $40,000.

City Council President John Lanni says the legal bills and cost of paying officers to stay home in recent years is about $650,000.

That includes the cases of Capt. Todd Patalano, who was on paid leave for nearly two years and is now suing the city, and former Chief Marco Palombo, who was put on leave during the ticket scandal and then retired.

"I just hope we get some results out of this money being spent. This is taxpayer money. It's not lottery money," Lanni said.

There does seem to be a pattern of people being put on administrative leave for long periods of time and being paid for not working," Councilman Steven Stycos told NBC 10.

"A lot of the legal expenses that we're incurring are due to the processes that are in place," said Fung's chief of staff Carlos Lopez.

Speaking at the council meeting was former sergeant Lillian Rivera, who claimed she was a harassed on the job more than 10 years ago, left, and was in a similar long battle with the city, starting before Fung was mayor. But she says he bears some blame for a long-running poor culture at the police department.

"A great effort ensued in 2009 and 2010 to shield high ranking officers and others from negative fallout and those who caused me harm were and are being rewarded with enriched pensions for life," Rivera told the city council.

Lopez says the timing of all this is political, as Fung is running for governor.

"It's two weeks before the primary. It's silly season," Lopez said. "Everyone who has a bone to pick with the mayor is going to come here and blame him for everything that's gone wrong with their life."

Of her timing, Rivera told NBC 10, "I am here because I am a victim of abuse and this council has been asking inquiries into these casesultimately it's the taxpayers of this city that incur the cost."