I-Team: Former state union rep faces assault charges

A Community College of Rhode Island employee and former state union rep faces charges after he allegedly punched a co-worker at a company picnic.

Louis Rainone, 58, of Cranston, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Kent County District Court on Friday. He was released on personal recognizance and is scheduled to return to court in August.

Rainone is accused of assaulting 62-year-old Kenneth Chatelle.

Rainone was secretary of the National Education Association of Rhode Island and has resigned his position since the charges.

More than 100 union members from the CCRI's Educational Support Professional Association were holding a picnic on June 7. Members of the NEARI were also at the event.

Sources told the NBC 10 I-Team that alcohol was served at the picnic.

As part of the their collective bargaining agreement, college employees were being paid by the state for four hours, or a half day, to attend the picnic, CCRI officials said.

According to a school representative, all food and beverages were paid for by the union. It wasn't immediately known if any alcohol was purchased with union funds.

After lunch, a fight broke out at the bar between Chatelle, a college maintenance technician, and Rainone, who works as a CCRI property control supply officer.

According to a police report obtained by the NBC 10 I-Team, Chatelle told police that Rainone, "threatened to throw him into the ocean" and then "punched him in the eye."

Leaving court on Friday, NBC 10 asked if there was anything Rainone would like to say to Chatelle, the union membership he used to represent or the taxpayers who pay his salary at CCRI. Rainone declined.

"We really can't comment at this point," said Rainone's attorney, Joel Chase.

Chatelle, who police say was punched, is not working and, according to CCRI, has applied for workers compensation after suffering injuries.

Rainone, who is accused of throwing the punch, is out on paid leave while the college investigates.

NEARI and ESPA officials declined to comment.

Chatelle told NBC 10 he was advised by his attorney not to say anything.

Calls placed to CCRI president Ray DiPasquale were not returned.