Cranston’s deputy fire chief found guilty of disorderly conduct
WARWICK, R.I. (WJAR) —
Cranston Deputy Fire Chief and union president Paul Valletta was found guilty of disorderly conduct, but acquitted on a simple assault charge by district court judge Elaine Bucci after a day-long trial on Friday.
Valletta was arrested after an incident on September 9 the Scituate Avenue Fire Station, where he was accused of physically attacking Lt. Scott Bergantino.
Both men were called as witnesses in the case.
Bergantino testified that it all started when he refused to send his platoon members out to “Fill the Boot,” which is a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy. He said that he felt it was in bad taste to ask people for money because it was a week after Hurricane Harvey displaced thousands in Florida and Texas.
Bergantino said that Valletta showed up to the fire station and told Bergantino’s men to go out and participate in the fundraiser. After a quick meeting with the platoon, an expletive-laden verbal altercation took place between the two.
But they have different accounts of what happened next.
Bergantino said that after he used an expletive to insult Valletta’s mother, the deputy chief charged at him, pinned him face-first against a wall, and punched him in the head.
Yet, Valletta said that Bergantino initiated the physical contact on him and that he never threw any punches at the lieutenant. Both men ended up on the floor in a common living area in the fire house.
Valletta said because of the incident, he’s being treated for vertigo caused by a concussion. Bergantino said he suffered a scrape on his back and a lump on his head.
An audio recording of the incident that Bergantino captured was played in court.
It confirmed a loud, vulgar argument that lasted a little more than a minute before a loud crash was heard when the physical fight began.
A judge cited the inconsistencies in witness testimony as the reason for the assault acquittal, but said that the physically aggressive behavior gave her no choice but to levy the disorderly conduct verdict.
Valletta was sentenced only to a year’s filing of the case, which means it will stay on his record for a year and could be expunged after that time. He has five days to appeal the verdict.