I-Team: Veteran officer eyed in Pawtucket gas investigation

The NBC 10 I-Team has learned that a Pawtucket police officer is under investigation, after the mayor's office confirmed to NBC 10 that city gasoline may have been misused.

The I-Team dug through three years' worth of records from Pawtucket's city gas pumps and found some strange patterns involving a veteran Pawtucket police officer.

Officer Kenneth Provost confirmed to reporter Katie Davis that he's now under investigation by Rhode Island State Police. He's a 30-year veteran of the department.

City employees gas up before and after their shifts at Pawtucket's public works yard. The gas is paid for with tax dollars.

Only employees who drive city vehicles have access to the pumps, and the area is monitored by surveillance cameras. For every transaction at the city's pumps, the employee enters a personal code and the vehicle number.

According to the records, the I-Team found Provost often filled up a 2005 Ford Expedition used as the department's community service vehicle before and after his shift, just as other police employees do.

But NBC 10 found he also appears to have gassed up as many as three times in the same shift, entering the vehicle number for the Expedition each time. That would mean pumping more gas than the Expedition can burn during the time period recorded.

On Oct. 20, 2010, city records show Provost pumped 35.5 gallons over three-and-a-half hours. The Expedition's tank holds 28 gallons.

On Dec. 17, 2010, city records show Provost pumped about 41 gallons over four hours.

On Jan. 11, 2011, city records show him pumping 43 gallons in three hours, almost 15 gallons more than the tank can hold.

At the Expedition's average fuel economy of 14 mpg that would mean driving 555 miles just to burn the gas, roughly the distance from Pawtucket to Pittsburgh.

A law enforcement source told the I-Team that a heavy patrol shift in Pawtucket would be about 50 miles.

NBC 10 gave Provost several opportunities to explain the gas transactions and asked him to sit down for an interview. He declined to go on camera, but he said he's "made mistakes" and that he intends to make things right with the city of Pawtucket.

Provost also claims some of the gas he pumped went into other city vehicles, even though records show the Expedition's vehicle number was entered.

NBC 10 has learned Rhode Island State Police are reviewing surveillance video from the public works yard, which is kept on a hard drive and goes back about 90 days.

With multiple camera angles, the video likely shows who was at the pumps and whether the vehicle on camera matches the vehicle number entered.

Pawtucket Public Safety Commissioner Tony Pires said he was following the investigation closely and that if any fuel was misused, the city wants the person responsible held accountable.