North Providence mayor, police, council battle over Google settlement
NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. —
The North Providence mayor and police chief are squaring off against the town council president over the $60 million that the police department raked in from a federal government settlement with Google.
The council is challenging the mayor on who has final say on how to spend the remaining $35 million, which has now been frozen by the government as a result of the dispute.
At the Monday night council meeting, Council President Kristen Catanzaro announced that Raymond Mansolillo, the lawyer hired by the council to make its case, has withdrawn following a controversial email.
The acting police chief and others are upset over the email sent to the U.S. Department of Justice, which handles the Google money.
In the email shown to NBC10 by Acting Police Chief Paul Martellini, Mansolillo was protesting the chief's plan to share $150,000 of the money with the Hopkinton Police, claiming it may be because the two chiefs had worked together, writing that it "smells of backroom deals and improperly taking care of friends."
Martellini told NBC10, "It was very disheartening and an attack on our credibility."
The chief says there are plans to share some of the money with other departments, too.
Town council president Catanzaro told NBC10 she questioned the spending, but says she did not approve of the email.
Catanzaro told NBC10, "I did have a conversation with him and I told him it wasn't appropriate."
Mansolillo was not at the council meeting.
Critics also point out the Boston-based lawyer is not licensed in Rhode Island.
Catanzaro says that should have been the responsibility of Mansolillo's law firm to disclose that information.
Mayor Charles Lombardi is pressing for an investigation, telling NBC10, "We want to know where he came from, who hired him, why they third him, and where was the due diligence."
But Catanzaro and a majority of the council voted against an internal investigation into the matter.
Chief Martellini told NBC10, "I think more needs to be done. I think it's disheartening that the council accepts a letter of resignation from this gentleman and they close the chapter."