Fung says police captain's paid leave was 'concerning'
CRANSTON, R.I. — Cranston Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung told the NBC 10 I-Team on Wednesday that "it was concerning" that a city police captain was told to stay home for nearly two years and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars."Well it did come to my attention and when it did come to my attention it was concerning," Fung said.Capt. Todd Patalano was put on paid administrative leave in 2012 by then-Chief Marco Palumbo for allegedly mishandling civilian complaints.Patalano claims the charges had no merit, and that the chief had it out for him. But Patalano sat home for 20 months, collecting nearly $100,000 a year salary while his case went before a Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights hearing."It was an attempt by a police administration to take out, if I can use those words, somebody they saw as a threat," said Joe Penza, Patalano's lawyer.Between salary, city legal fees and Patalano's own attorney costs, the tab amounts to $448,000."One of the things that I did ask the state police to do once they first came in to Cranston was to do a top-to-bottom assessment of the police department but also review a lot of personnel issues particularly this issue with Capt. Patalano to give me an objective assessment of what was really going on," Fung said.Patalano went back to work and was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing by the state police.Palumbo has since retired but his handling of Patalano's case and at least two other cases of paid administrative leave with another captain and a secretary, and a parking ticket scandal raise questions about his leadership at the department."One of the things that had been percolating in the department was we started seeing a lot of personnel issues, a lot of grievances," Fung said.Fung said the Patalano case wasn't cut and dry, lingering because of other grievances the captain was involved with. He said he didn't micromanage Palumbo."You have to trust the individuals you put in place," he said. "Everything stops with me, not just as public safety commissioner, but as mayor and that's why we're in the position we're in now. We're looking for new leadership, we want to move the department forward."Penza said Patalano's legal fees total about $103,000. Patalano would like the city to pick up the cost. Fung said the city should not have to pay those legal fees.