Cranston to fire police captain in ticket blitz

Steven Antonucci

Months after the NBC 10 I-Team revealed a parking ticket blitz in Cranston, Mayor Allan Fung on Thursday called for the firing of one of the city's top police officers.

"Today we are announcing a recommendation, that is a recommendation of termination for Cranston Police Capt. Stephen Antonucci," Fung said.

Fung said a state police investigation found it was Capt. Stephen Antonucci who ordered patrol officers to hand out more than 100 parking tickets.

All of the tickets were handed out in wards 1 and 3 after those council members voted against a new police contract.

Antonucci was the police union president, in addition to his management position.

"It has become clear to me that a member of the police union should not also hold the management rank of captain with the police department. In my opinion, this creates a conflict between labor and management," Fung said.

Fung said Antonucci faces at least seven charges of violating police conduct. He was suspended with pay. Officials said he is entitled to a hearing under the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights.

The ticket blitz came to light after the NBC 10 I-Team requested overnight parking ticket records from November.

The investigation revealed 106 tickets were written in the three days following the contract vote, but 18 tickets on the day before the vote.

State police said the patrolmen who wrote the tickets followed orders they were given.

"The captain gave a lawful order to those police officers. They did what they were told to do. If they accepted a non-lawful order, it would be a different story," state police Col. Steven O'Donnell said.

Investigators said former Cranston Police Chief Marco Palombo Jr., who retired last month, had no role in the ticket blitz.

"There was never any allegation that Col. Palumbo was involved. That doesn't negate the fact that he was the leader at the time this happened," Fung said.

The question now, who will lead the department going forward?

"I'm looking for a new chief who can unify the department and build a culture of public accountability and transparency," Fung said.

Fung said the new chief could come from inside the department or outside.

Rank and file police officers told the I-Team they want someone who will be tough but fair, and who can bring different factions inside the department together.