Rhode Island Unionists Accused of Perjury

Johnston, Rhode Island, Mayor, William R. Macera, Macera has asked R.I.’s Attorney General to determine whether five firefighters committed perjury during an arbitration hearing in Apr. 2000. In a July 13 letter to Atty. Gen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Macera alleged that the witnesses who testified on behalf of the Int’l Ass’n of Fire Fighters Local 1950 did so in a clearly false manner,

Macera called the conduct unacceptable and an affront to the people of the town of Johnston. Macera also wrote that this type of blatant lying under oath undermines the integrity of the adversarial process and the effective administration of justice.

The subject was an arbitration decision issued in the case of five firefighters suspended for two days for parking in a no-parking zone at department headquarters. The five are Capt. Arthur Moretti, Lt., Anthony Mazzulla, Lt., Thomas Ricci and Privates Donato Paolucci and Stephen Hart.

Arbitrator Craig E. Overton said the town followed the wrong procedure in suspending the firefighters two days each without pay and awarded back pay. But Overton also said the firefighters did not testify truthfully during the grievance hearing, despite being under oath. Overton said the firefighters’ testimony about whether they knew a no-parking order existed became less certain, more evasive and inherently suspect as time went on. Overton found the testimony ludicrous and in essence nothing more than blue smoke and mirrors in an attempt to get away with a flagrant violation of the posted ban and of an order Fire Chief Victor Cipriano had issued banning parking.

The back pay totals about $1,500. The case was brought by officials of Local 1950. Local president Joseph A. Andriole strongly defended the suspended firefighters. He said he didn’t think anyone perjured themselves during the hearing. Overton’s statements are his opinions, Andriole said. He said he knows of no evidence that would indicate the five perjured themselves. He added that he’d be surprised if that was the case.

Overton’s decision was issued in a controversial case dating back to Nov. 18, 1999, when Macera noticed five cars parked beside the fire headquarters building as he was driving by. He wrote down the license numbers and gave then to Chief Cipriano, who issued the suspensions. That led to the grievance and Overton’s decision. Macera also recalled that as a result of the same incident, two firefighters accused him of assault. A grand jury refused to return any indictments. A review of that testimony may add further evidence of dishonesty, Macera said. [Providence J.-Bull. 7/20/00]