Cranston Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung had to transition from a Wednesday press conference and the good news of a projected $500,000 city surplus to defend himself against a federal lawsuit filed by police Capt. Todd Patalano.
"I find these allegations outrageous, frivolous, and the facts will come out. I firmly believe that the city will be meritorious in its defense of these claims," said Fung, who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit along with former Cranston police chief Marco Palombo.
Patalano alleges Fung knew about his specific situation and failed to act.
Patalano was placed on paid leave for 21 months by Palombo on 11 disciplinary charges. The captain said Palombo had it out for him, and the charges that were trumped up were bogus. Patalano claims he knew he was a target and began recording conversations with the chief and others to protect himself.
"The truth is this was a complete abuse of power by the former administration of the Cranston Police Department," said Patalano's attorney Joseph Penza in a May interview with the I-Team.
Patalano sat home collecting a $100,000 a year salary and also racked up a six-figure legal debt. The city has spent nearly $200,000 on legal fees for the case against Patalano, who was eventually cleared by state police of any wrong doing.
"There's some real accountability that we all need to understand here, because it looks like a serious failure of management," said Ken Block, Fung's Republican opponent in the state's gubernatorial race. "As the director of public safety, and the person responsible for it, he let this fester for almost two years and he didn't solve the problem. The state police, when they took over his police department with the ticketing scandal, eventually reinstated Captain Patalano."
City Council President John Lanni questions where this all ends, particularly the city's mounting legal bills associated with the police department. He told the I-Team the city is self-insured and loss of a lawsuit would come out of the city's rainy day fund.
Fung acknowledged the city made a settlement offer that was rejected by Patalano. The amount is unknown.
When reached by phone Palombo called the allegations against him "absolutely false."