Cranston council president weighs in on officer's lawsuit

Cranston City Council President John Lanni

Cranston Police Capt. Todd Patalano claims he was wrongly forced to stay home from work for two years.

Now he's put the city on notice that a $5 million lawsuit may be coming.

"I was kinda shocked. I never thought he'd sue for that kind of money," Cranston City Council President John Lanni told NBC 10. "I personally believe he has a case. But like I said, not a $5 million case. I believe he should get his legal fees."

Patalano claims he was the target of trumped up allegations from his former boss. Patalano was put on paid leave in 2012 by then-Chief Marco Palombo.

The NBC 10 I-Team broke the story that Patalano was being paid to sit home for two years.

Patalano has now been back at work for a few months and the Rhode Island State Police captain now running the Cranston department recently threw out the internal accusations against Patalano.

Now comes the threat of a multimillion dollar lawsuit, which Lanni says could have a real impact.

"If he wins the case, it's going to hurt every taxpayer in the city," Lanni said.

In a statement, Mayor Allan Fung said, "Patalano's demand for millions from the taxpayers shows he is more interested in serving himself than in serving the residents that he is sworn to protect. Cranston taxpayers will not be an ATM machine for Mr. Patalano and his lawyer Mr. Penza."

But the city council president doesn't think Fung is free of blame here.

"This never should have happened. I understand the mayor says he doesn't like to micromanage, however, you should manage. I'm disappointed. Very, very disappointed," Lanni said.

The city has already spent about $175,000 in legal fees on the case and paid Patalano nearly that much to stay home for two years.