I-Team: Town official reacts to investigation of Tiverton employee
TIVERTON, R.I. —
Sitting in his office at Tiverton Town Hall, Town Administrator James Goncalo looks over NBC 10 I-Team's undercover video on a laptop computer.
On the screen was one of his own, town maintenance foreman and Council 94 local union president Robert Martin, seen working on personal property on town time.
"I appreciate the fact that you're showing me this and I will have to investigate it," Goncalo said.
The I-Team watched Martin for two months with an undercover camera during his normal workday hours. When he was asked about it, Martin denied any wrongdoing.
Martin spent hours at his eight homes in Tiverton and Fall River.
He was followed to a local lumber store, and NBC 10 caught Martin's assistant, Larry Faulkner, another town employee, as he carried lumber off Martin's truck and into one of the homes.
On another day, new stairs were installed at one his houses in Fall River.
Gavigan: "You're surprised?"
Gavigan: "Isn't this the worst kept secret in town though?"
Goncalo: "I don't know."
Gavigan: "This has never come to you before?"
Goncalo: "No. I mean there have been times when someone has said 'I saw Bob Martin here or there' and I questioned him and it seemed to be reasonable."
Faulkner said he went to Goncalo and showed him pictures of work he had done for Martin. The same day, Faulkner was fired.
Goncalo: "He wasn't fired, he was let go."
Gavigan: "What's the difference?"
Goncalo: "The term."
Gavigan: "So why was he let go?"
Goncalo: "Because of certain allegations he made toward other employees that would make it impossible for him to work in the presence of these employees, I felt."
The I-Team obtained the letter signed by the town administrator that clearly states Faulkner was being terminated, saying there had been "excessive use of personal time" during working hours, seeing visitors, using a cell phone and leaving materials at a job site.
"I'm probably the hardest worker in that department," said Faulkner.
Gavigan: "Using a cell phone during the course of the day seems minor compared to using taxpayer money -- using your authority as a boss, using another town employee, using town equipment, using town resources for your own personal use?"
Goncalo: "I understand that, OK, and that's something we will look into."
No evidence exists of Martin using town money to purchase items for himself. However the Rhode Island State Police are investigating Martin's use of town time and resources.
The I-Team requested Martin's time sheets from Goncalo, but was denied access. No reason was given.