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  • North Providence

    Ex-North Providence officer to plead guilty

    01:00 AM EDT on Friday, August 29, 2008

    By Richard C. Dujardin

    Journal Staff Writer

    PROVIDENCE — A nine-year veteran of the North Providence police, facing federal charges of tampering with a witness and concealing a felony, was temporarily released by U.S. Magistrate Lincoln D. Almond yesterday after confirming that he will plead guilty to three felony counts as part of a plea bargain agreement.

    Paul Vittorio, 37, of North Providence, who showed up at the U.S. District Court annex in a dark blue suit and with a closely shaved head, in the company of his lawyers, William C. Dimitri and Patrick O’Neill, is accused of, among other things, protecting a drug dealer from whom he had been illegally buying prescription drugs over a three-year period.

    Vittorio, who has already submitted his resignation as a patrol officer to the North Providence Police Department as part of the plea agreement, is the second member of the department to have run afoul of the law this year. Former Sgt. Michael Ciresi was convicted on two counts of burglary and seven other charges in February.

    Papers filed with the court yesterday allege that when Vittorio discovered in August 2006 that the drug dealer was being investigated by North Providence detectives, he met with him at the home of an unidentified witness, designated as W-1, to warn him of a possible investigation. The documents allege that after Vittorio suggested that the dealer close down his drug distribution operation on Mineral Spring Avenue, the dealer did so, relocating to Plainfield Street in Johnson.

    Although no one at the U.S. Attorney’s office yesterday would divulge the identity of the dealer Vittorio was allegedly trying to protect, The Journal was able to determine through its own news stories and an examination of court records that it was Louis Romanelli, 81, whose last address was in Providence and who is at the Wyatt Detention Center, in Central Falls. Romanelli was one of five men who were arrested by the state police at a Johnston social club last November on charges of manufacturing, delivery and possession with intent to distribute several different types of prescription drugs.

    He is also one of two men who were arrested by agents of the federal Food and Drug Administration in May after a raid at the Prime Drug pharmacy at 613 Cranston St. According to information provided at the time by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adi Goldstein, who is now involved in the Vittorio case, undercover agents met with Romanelli on multiple occasions this year to buy and sell oxycodone, hydrocodone and expensive HIV-AIDS drugs. An undercover agent allegedly sold one batch of the HIV-AIDS drugs for $16,000 to Romanelli, who in turn peddled the drugs to a partner.

    Papers submitted to the court yesterday allege that when Vittorio learned, after the dealer’s arrest in May, that so-called Witness-1 was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury, he met with the witness on several occasions to discuss what he might say. According to information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Vittorio told him: “Whatever you say, if my name ever comes up, just don’t tell about the drugs…. Don’t say anything about drugs.”

    Later, after the witness testified, Vittorio allegedly called him back to ask “what did you tell them, the grand jury, that [he] gave me pills?”

    When the witness answered, “No, I lied, I lied,” Vittorio allegedly responded, “OK.” And when the witness asked if he was going to get into trouble, the officer is said to have replied, “You won’t. You’re not going to be put in jail. Put it that way, nothing is going to happen. … What did they ask you in the grand jury? My name didn’t come up at all?”

    He is quoted as also saying to the witness, “the best thing that can happen right now … is if [Romanelli] dies.”

    The third count, making a false statement, stems from an allegation that around June 13, Vittorio lied to a federal agent, denying that he ever obtained controlled substances from the dealer.

    If sentenced to the maximum on all three counts, Vittorio faces 28 years in prison, a maximum fine of $750,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 9 years.

    In the proposed plea agreement presented to the court, the government, in exchange for Vittorio’s guilty plea, will recommend to the court that it impose a sentence at the “low end” of the guideline range.

    Almond said that while he recognizes Vittorio’s plan to plead guilty, U.S. magistrates are not authorized to accept such a plea, and so entered an innocent plea on his behalf, with the understanding that Vittorio will be able to change the plea when he goes before Chief U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi.

    In ordering Vittorio’s temporary release on $10,000 unsecured bail, Almond warned that his bail could be revoked and that he could be immediately sent to prison should officers of the court find that he had left Rhode Island without court permission, became involved in another crime or taken alcohol or drugs.

    It is expected that Vittorio will appear before Judge Lisi in about two weeks.

    Lt. David Palmer, the state police officer currently serving as the North Providence Police Department’s interim chief, was away from his office yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

    rdujardi@projo.com

  • #2
    We see enough negative remarks about police, no need to upload a whole article to post.

    Comment


    • #3
      North Providence

      yes it did
      Last edited by TGD; 09-02-2008, 01:10 AM. Reason: grammar

      Comment


      • #4
        North Providence

        Actually, we do!! I am a LE and know this officer personally!! He has disgraced the badge and the honor of all he serves with!!

        Comment

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