August 16, 2008

Corrente and Prignano Pension Decisions: Roll Call Vote of the Providence Retirement Board

Monique Chartier

[Credit: The vote breakdown below was supplied by an unidentified but helpful woman in the Providence City Clerk's office who also, upon being asked, provided an estimate of seven to ten days for promulgation of minutes of both meetings - minutes which apparently are eagerly awaited by certain parties unspecified.]

Under Marc's post "Partial Credit Pensions - What a concept!", commentor Anthony calls for the replacement of the entire Providence Retirement Board. Is Anthony exaggerating? Can we narrow the list somewhat?

Presumably, the guidelines by which a retirement board determines whether to grant or deny a pension includes compliance with statutory parameters. One of these is "honorable service", a municipal ordinance which

states that a pension or other benefit “shall be revoked or reduced” if the person at issue is convicted or pleads guilty or no contest “to any crime related to his or her public employment …”

So, under this requirement, Mr. Prignano qualified for a pension; Mr. Corrente did not. How did the votes of individual members of the Retirement Board actually shake out?

By a seven to five vote, the Providence Retirement Board voted on June 25, 2008 to revoke Urbano Prignano Jr.'s pension. Voting to revoke:

Wallace Demary Jr.

Former Councilman David G. Dillon

City Council appointee Carla M. Dowben

Councilman John J. Igliozzi

Susan R. LaPidus

Providence Finance Director Bruce Miller

Providence Treasurer Stephen T. Napolitano

Voting to grant Mr. Prignano's pension:

Chairman Pasquale T. D'Amico

Vice Chairman James Potenza, a Fire Department captain who represents active firefighters

Sharon Gleckman, a school employee who represents active city employees who are not police and fire officers

Kerion O'Mara, a retired detective who represents retired police and fire officers.

Harold Zacks, a police detective who represents active police officers.

On August 13, the PRB awarded Mr. Frank Corrente a partial pension, again on a split vote - split differently, however.

Voting to grant a partial pension:

Chairman Pasquale T. D'Amico

Vice Chairman Fire Capt. James L. Potenza

Mr. Greco [spelling & first name subject to correction]

Sharon Gleckman

Providence Treasurer Stephen T. Napolitano

Kerion O'Mara, a retired detective who represents retired police and fire officers

Harold Zacks, a police detective who represents active police officers

Voting against any pension:

Former City Councilman David G. Dillon, a mayoral appointee

City Council appointee Carla Dowben

Councilman John J. Igliozzi

Susan R. LaPidus

Providence Finance Director Bruce Miller

[Absent: Wallace Demary Jr.]

Anthony is correct. No member of the Providence Retirement Board rendered both of these decisions in compliance with the honorable service ordinance of the City of Providence.

ADDENDUM - City of Providence "Honorable Service" Ordinance [Chapter 17, Article VI]

At the suggestion of commentor George Elbow.

Sec. 17-189.1. Honorable service, revocation or reduction of retirement benefits of employees committing crime related to public employment.

(a) General provisions.

(1) Payment of an employee's retirement allowance or annuity or other benefit or payments as provided in chapter 17 shall be for honorable service only.

(2) For purposes of this section, "crime related to his or her public employment" shall mean any of the following:

a. The committing, abiding or abetting of an embezzlement of public funds;

b. The committing, aiding or abetting of any felonious theft by a public employee from his or her employer;

c. Bribery in connection with employment of a public employee; and

d. The committing of any felony by a public employee who willfully, and with the intent to defraud, realizes or obtains, or attempts to realize or obtain, a profit, gain, or advantage for himself or herself or for some other person through the use or attempted use of power, rights, privileges, duties, or position of his or her public office or employment.

(3) For purposes of this section, "public employee" or "employee" shall mean any current or former city elected official, or any appointed official or employee of the city, or of a city board, commission or agency, who is otherwise entitled to receive a retirement allowance or annuity or other benefit or payment of any kind pursuant to chapter 17.

(4) Revocation or reduction authorized. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any retirement allowance or annuity or other benefit or payment of any kind to which an employee is otherwise entitled to under chapter 17 shall be revoked or reduced in accordance with the provisions of this section if such employee is convicted of or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to any crime related to his or her public employment. Any such conviction or plea shall be deemed to be a breach of the employee's contract with his or her employer.

(5) Hearing; civil action. Whenever any employee is convicted of or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to any crime related to his or her public employment, the retirement board shall conduct a meeting, with the employee having the opportunity to be heard, to determine if a recommendation of revocation or reduction of any retirement allowance or annuity or other benefit or payment to which the employee is otherwise entitled to under this chapter is warranted. If the retirement board determines that revocation or reduction of any retirement allowance or annuity or other benefit or payment to which the employee is otherwise entitled to under this chapter is warranted, the retirement board shall initiate a civil action in the superior court for the revocation or reduction of any retirement allowance or annuity or other benefit or payment to which the employee is otherwise entitled to under chapter 17.

(6) For purposes of this section, "pleads guilty or nolo contendere" shall not include any plea of guilty or nolo contendere which does not result in a conviction by virtue of G.L. 1956 § 12-10-12 or 12-18-3, as amended.

(Ord. 1999, ch. 99-45, § 1, 11-15-99)

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I have addressed this before on another thread-the revocation of Prignano's pension was a criminal act-larceny-instigated by David Cicilline and Dean Esserman.
I believe the Superior Court will overturn this travesty of justice.
corrente was convicted of a felony,but two separate periods of service were on the table.
Let's say a soldier gets an honorable discharge and some years later re-enlists and gets a dishionorable discharge.Does the second one negate the first in determining eligibility for veteran's benefits?
The Corrente case is not as simple as it seems.I barely know who Frank Corrente is,so I have no dog in the fight.
I worked in Urbano Prignano's unit,SIB, when he was Narcotics Inspector from 1990-1994 and what I observed was a hard working, honest police supervisor.
He was a little rough around the edges,but he was a street cop,so it goes with the territory.
Esserman is an effete candy *ss creep.He never spent any time "on the bricks" and is a fraud as a police chief.
I spent my whole career on the street and I have an attitude-and anyone who doesn't like it can pound sand.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 16, 2008 10:53 PM

Any suprise the Police and Fire reps (as well the other city employee rep Gleckman) voted to Grant a Pension to both of these two dishonorable leeches?

I'm sure they made the likes of Tom "Giving Selflessly" Kenney proud, he who never saw a Public employee leech transgression that he couldn't justify or overlook.

And sorry, Joe. Your boy Urbano is a self-admitted cheating & dishonorable dirt-bag, who contributed to the culture of corruption that was / is the City of Providence.

And don't hang your hat on technicalities, such as he was never charged or convicted of a crime. He admitted to the cheating. If you think that was all he did wrong, then I've got some nice swamp land in Florida I'd love to sell you.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 16, 2008 11:39 PM

That's right George. It didn't go unnoticed by me either. The union pig/whores don't give a rat's *ss about what is right or moral. What a dispicable bunch. And they wonder why they get no respect. Duh!

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at August 16, 2008 11:52 PM

George-Not being charged or convicted of a crime is hardly a "technicality"-it is the threshold for revoking a pension.Apparently such little details as the law in effect take second place to your personal feelings.Prignano was accused of one thing-supplying test materials-he wasn't accused of putting penny one in his pocket by dishonest means in a 30+ year career.
I never was employed by the city or the state so my point of view is from outside that milieu.
Esserman has developed a reputation for using his position to get freebies and more seriously "jobs"for himself and his wife at local educational institutions-I don't know all the facts,but these allegations have come from varied sources.He hasn't done a very good job with crime in Providence either.His crime statistics have been seriously questioned by journalists.
I won't argue the point with Corrente-I'm not a lawyer and he is a convicted felon.I hope you are never denied something based on less than legally sufficient proof.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 17, 2008 5:57 AM

JB -

I'd need to see the actual ordinance to really debate you on this.

But consider the following:

1) based on Monique's limited comment w/ respect to the ordinance, it sounds like you lose if you plead guilty or no contest “to any crime related to his or her public employment …”

The guy plead guilty to cheating. I don't know the circumstances of his admission of guilt on the cheating, but perhaps it was plea bargained that he admit it to avoid being charged and found guilty of a crime.

Regardless, the guy cheated and had dishonorable service. No Pension for dishonorable service. Real simple stuff, Joe.

2) "I hope you are never denied something based on less than legally sufficient proof." I couldn't agree more.

Now Joe, consider what was denied to some good cops due to Urbano's dishonorable actions / service. That dishonorable piece of crap denied some good cops good careers by cheating and providing some of his scumbag friends the tests.

Please Joe, I have too much respect for you. Don't go the Tom "Giving Selflessly" Kenney route and defend the indefensible by defending this piece of crap the way Tom defends the actions of his pal { summer re-run deleted }.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 17, 2008 8:42 AM

--And they wonder why they get no respect. Duh!

To them public respect is nice, but is down the priority list from money and power.

And union solidarity. "They may be a crooks, but they're our crooks."

Though many still believe it, in Rhode Island it's no longer:

Democrats + unions ="working families" ... and "working families" vs. Republicans.

The reality today is that it is:

Public sector unions + welfare industry = Democrats ... and Democrats vs. "working families" + Republicans.

Posted by: Tom W at August 17, 2008 9:23 AM

Corrente: if a public official is taking bribes, why shouldn't his entire pension be in jeopardy? That sounds like good public policy. You take bribes, you betray the public trust, you lose any and all pensions. I would not lose a minute of sleep over Corrente losing it all.

Prignano: is there really a big moral difference between stealing money --and corrupting law enforcement to promote people who don't deserve promotions? In both cases the public is defrauded. Both undermine the public trust and both are destructive to law enforcement.

Why do some people have such low standards for public officials?

Posted by: Citizen Critic at August 17, 2008 1:18 PM

-Why do some people have such low standards for public officials?

Well, we are talking about Rhode Island!

We have our own political culchah here.

Posted by: Tom W at August 17, 2008 2:12 PM

If the right wing reformers ever get their way and force state or municipal workers into 401K retirement savings instead of defined benefit pensions could there be any revocation of the 410k's based on the nature of their service?

Posted by: Phil at August 17, 2008 6:28 PM

I'd say yes, to the extent of the Taxpayer funded match, if any.

Real simple - you want taxpayer funded benefits, work with honor.

Engage in corruption, don't expect a dime of Taxpayer funded ANYTHING, with the exception, perhaps, of Taxpayer funded food & shelter at the ACI.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 17, 2008 7:24 PM

George-Prignano acknowledged his role in the test cheating during testimony given after a grant of immunity.Once given immunity,one cannot be charged with crimes admitted to during sworn testimony covered by the grant of immunity.One can be charged with lying under oath(perjury)or contempt for refusing to testify under immunity.
No one accused Prignano of lying when he testified nor did he refuse to testify.He never "plead guilty"or "nolo" to any charge as none were brought,and that is precisley the point I am making.A conviction is required by statute to revoke a pension for dishonorable service.I am not asking you to join the Barney Prignano Fan Club,but just go by the rules that were pre-existing the time he admitted his role.I know you have a beef with this Paul Doughty-I only know who he is through this website,and if he was a no-show at work,screw him.Prignano never had that problem-he used very poor judgement during his tenure as Chief,and probably should have remained in his job as Narcotics Inspector.I myself never made more than one promotion in my career because I knew my limitations and never believed I was competent to be a manager.I was good at what I did and happy for that and never had ambition to move up.If Barney's failing was reaching beyond his ability,it's still not a crime.During the whole scandal,it was discussed openly in the media that cheating on a promotion probably was not prosecutable under criminal statutes.Sort of a loophole,like indoor prostitution.
to conclude,the state granted Prignano immunity-they didn't have to.But they did,and they cannot have it both ways.I dealt with immunized testimony on my job and it was a two edged sword which had bad potential to backfire.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 17, 2008 8:46 PM


One doesn't need to be promoted beyond their capabilities as a manager to not know the difference between right and wrong.

Cheating fellow officers out of a fair shot at a promotion is WRONG and DISHONORABLE. There is NOTHING to debate in that regard.

It is real simple, Joe. The guy cheated and he hurt the careers of otherwise good cops. Said differently, he is / was as corrupt as Corrente.

If he is such a stand up guy, why did he need Imuninty?

You made it thru your career without being a corrupt piece of crap. Why couldn't Barney Fife do the same? 'Cuz of bad judgment? Well, of all people, given your profession, you know that people have to pay a price every day for bad judgement.

With respect to Mr. Paul Doughty, my "beef" with him is not at all personal. I have a beef with any and all Lazy-Ass No-Show Union leeches that screw the already screwed Taxpayers.

Similarly, I have a beef with any and all fools that defend the indefensible
actions of such leeches. Hence my tirades regarding Tom "Giving Selflessly" Kenney.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 17, 2008 9:01 PM

Monique - thanks.

JB - the very First provision states that "honorable service" is a condition of receiving a Pension.

Criminal activity is not mentioned until the Second provision.

Unfortunately, they do not define "honorable service", but I would argue that common sense suggests that Cheating good cops out of promotions is as dishonorable as it gets. Wouldn't you agree?

In summary, I think Barney Fife lost his pension under the First provision and Buddy's Boy (Corrente) lost his under the Fourth provision, supported by the Second provision.

Regardless of how the law will ultimately be twisted by the lawyers, Barney Fife should lose his pension for his dishonorable service, as that is clearly the spirit and intent of the Ordinance.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 18, 2008 7:23 AM

What Joe Berstein fails to see is that Prignano's actions were worse than some of actions of the drug dealers he helped put away.

At least with drug dealers, you know you're dealing with punks. Prignano's actions created a culture of corruption that permeated the PPD. It didn't matter what you did, so long as you "knew" the right people. That's a very dangerous perspective for someone empowered by the government to hold.

Just look at some of the problems the Chicago PD has had in the last couple of years with police misconduct and abuse. Chicago finally had to bring in a superintendant with NO police experience (the guy had FBI experience and ran the Philly FBI office) to clean it up.

While being a good "street cop" can be highly beneficial and might initially earn a chief credibility with the rank and file, it doesn't mean that all good "street cops" have the managerial skills to be a great police chief or superintendent.

Prignano's case is Exhibit A.

As for the case that Prignano had two periods of service, it's my belief that the higher in rank an officer gets, he should be given even less leeway. After all, he should have the knowledge and experience to know right from wrong.

Posted by: Anthony at August 18, 2008 2:50 PM

Anthony-why do so many people leave out the first "n" in my name.They even used to do it on official paperwork.
To get serious,I was assigned to Chicago from 1976 to 1984 and I saw police corruption that would make anything here look like stealing Tootsie Rolls.
To allege that political promotions came in with Prignano is not credible.He certainly gave in to political pressure.Do you seriously think that Cicilline doesn't give Esserman "advice"on assignments?
I can say this because I was there-he ran a clean narcotics unit-the problems that came up later on occured after he was promoted to Chief and not in day to day control.I left the unit in 1994 and retired in 1996 and as I recall the problems arose around 1998 or so.
There was another Federal agent(ATF) assigned to SIB at the same time I was and there was never even an allegation of misconduct during that period.
What you and George and myself differ on is the application of the statute.
Instead of butting heads,let's see what the Superior Court has to say.
I am sure the decision rendered there will be untainted by politics.
It is interesting that all of the other officers involved in the cheating were allowed to retire or be retained at a lower rank.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 19, 2008 12:00 AM

Sorry about dropping the "n"!

I agree with you that Prignano was not the first police chief to give into political pressure and I don't know if Esserman gets "guidance" from Cicilline, but if such guidance ever involved falsifying documents, I'd want him to experience the same fate.

If political pressure was applied Prignano had three options.

1. He could falsify the documents as requested.

2. He could have said no and resigned because he was being asked to do something that was potentially illegal.

3. He could have said no and hoped that Cianci didn't fire him for it.

As the top leader of PPD, he should have done either #2 or #3.

Prignano may have been a good cop for most of his career. But with the highter rank and paycheck came an increased responsibilty to do the right thing.

Ultimately, Prignano's obligation was to the citizens of Providence, not to a particular mayor. And Prignano failed in fulfilling that responsibility.

Who knows, maybe the next time a RI police chief is asked to falsify document, he can tell his boss, "I'm sorry that's just asking a bit too much. I'd lose my pension if it ever came out."

Maybe Prignano losing his pension gives the next chief in his position an excuse to simply say "no".

Posted by: Anthony at August 19, 2008 4:45 PM


You never need and "excuse" to do the right thing.

Barney Fife chose to do the wrong thing. Off with his head.

But JB is right ...the Courts, who are presided over by people who are also licking their chops over a Pension they'll get some day, may well decide that Corruption does not always equal dishonorable service.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 19, 2008 7:07 PM

It's nice to debate an issue without sniping at each other-now,does anyone think Dice-K is guilty of intentionally creating bases-loaded drama?

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 19, 2008 11:00 PM

Thanks Monique-reading the provision it appears that a conviction or plea of nolo is a precondiition for revocation

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 21, 2008 5:17 AM
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