NBC 10 I-Team: One firefighter insults another’s mother; punches fly

Cranston firefighter Lt. Scott Bergantino (left); Deputy Fire Chief Paul Valletta, Jr. (right) (WJAR)

Court records obtained by the NBC 10 I-Team Tuesday paint a clearer picture of what reportedly happened inside a Cranston firehouse Saturday afternoon that led to the deputy chief being arrested for assault.

Paul Valletta, 59 of Warwick, was charged by Rhode Island State Police for allegedly assaulting another fireman, 52-year-old Lt. Scott Bergantino, according to records.

A police affidavit describes a wild scene at the city’s Station 6 firehouse on Scituate Ave., one that began with the men shouting obscenities at each other and ended with insults to family, namely Valletta’s mother, and punches thrown.

Bergantino told police that while other firefighters were participating in the “Fill the Boot” campaign raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, he and Valletta got into a heated argument about overtime.

Valletta is also the Cranston fire union president and a state lobbyist for the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters. Their argument turned physical, said Bergantino, who told detectives Valletta pushed him up against a chalkboard, punched him in the head two times and then threw him over a recliner and onto the floor.

After other firemen separated them, Bergantino said Valletta told him, “Don’t’ worry, I’ll run into you again,” said the report.

State Police detectives questioned other firemen who witnessed the altercation, and listened to a supposed recording of the incident, given to them by Bergantino.

Detectives said they could hear swearing back and forth on the recording and then Bergantino say “Go f*** your mother!”.

Private Michael Cabral Jr. told police he heard the mother insult and witnessed the deputy chief punch Bergantino in the area of the head “multiple times.”

Detectives said they could hear an unidentified firefighter say, “Chief stop, stop. Chief, come on, stop.”

Valletta could then be heard yelling back, “Don’t you ever say that about my mother… call me every name in the book, don’t be saying anything about my mother.”

Bergantino told police he called Fire Chief William McKenna and then drove himself to Fatima Hospital for a welt on his right shoulder, neck and back pain. Bergantino told the I-Team he also had a concussion.

The city suspended the deputy chief with pay pending an internal investigation.

Valletta is set to be arraigned before Judge Mary McCaffrey on September 26th. Attempts to reach him have been unsuccessful.

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