Sepe Calls for Special "Ticketgate" Prosecutor, Fung Says it's Politics as Ususal

Cranston Democratic City Committee Chairman calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the so-called ticketgate scandal. City officials, meanwhile, are calling the suggestion an act of political theater.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
The Chairman of the Democratic City Committee, Michael J. Sepe, is calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the Cranston Police Department to get the the bottom of the so-called "ticketgate" parking ticket scandal as well as to dispel "lingering rumors of an out-of-control police department."

Meanwhile, the administration of Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung has responded by saying there is already a State Police investigation into the department as a whole and that Sepe is merely trying to score political points in typical Sepe fashion with "really silly, scattershot [press releases]" that are "political theatre."

In a release, Sepe compared Fung to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the ticket scandal to the so-called bridgegate scandal in that state in which his administration is accused of closing  several lanes on the George Washington Bridge apparently without cause and for political retribution.

In Cranston, Sepe alleges, Fung "is desperately trying to disengage himself from a multi-level scandal in the Police Department" and rehashed the basic, well-known facts — that Councilmen Steven Styocs and Paul Achetto's wards were dramatically ticketed with overnight parking violations the night after they voted against a new police contract last year.

"The ticket-gate scandal together with several ongoing police personnel matters currently being litigated in the state court system are indicative of a Police Dept. - Gone Wild," Sepe said. "A Police Department unduly influenced by politics and a union which contributed inordinately to Fung's political campaigns.  A police department lacking in supervision by the Public Safety Commissioner -  None other than Mayor Fung himself - who holds that position by virtue of the Cranston City Charter .  How much will it cost Cranston Taxpayers to disentangle from this embarrassing mess?"

Sepe went so far as to suggest Fung's report of a stolen laptop from his car was the same laptop he used on the eve of the ticketgate and that the laptop could "totally immerse Fung" into the mess.

"The time is ripe for the Cranston City Council to use its investigatory authority and appoint a special prosecutor to lead and independent investigation to dig into the facts and find out what happened and when," Sepe said. 

Cranston's Chief of Staff Carlos Lopez brushed aside Sepe's remarks, saying it's unfortunate that the committee boss would "politicize the situation and question the work of the State Police who are running the day to day operations of the Cranston Police Department at the request of Mayor Fung."

"This is just more political theatre from Boss Sepe," Lopez said. "Mayor Fung has entrusted the State Police to conduct a complete and independent investigation into any and all matters concerning the Cranston Police Department and is satisfied with the professionalism, dedication and thoroughness of their work."

The department is now moving forward Lopez said, and there have been many moves since the whole scandal erupted late last year — and first reported here on the Patch.

The head of the Cranston Police Union, Steven Antonucci, has been recommended for termination by the mayor as a result of the State Police investigation after he reportedly admitted to ordering the ticketing that night, though Antonucci has told the media, through the union's former lawyer, it was for stepped up enforcement, not retribution.

Then police chief Marco Palombo Jr. has retired, paving the way for new leadership in the department, which had been suffering from factional friction in recent years. Palombo has not been implicated in the ticketing issue and city officials have insisted his departure was to make room for the State Police to conduct their investigation.

Meanwhile the search is on for a new police chief, and though the mayor hasn't made his final pick, the City Council will soon learn of his final choice after an ongoing search.

By calling for a special prosecutor, Lopez said Sepe is suggesting the State Police don't know how to do their jobs or worse, are subject to some kind of alleged pressure or coercion to come up with one conclusion or another.

"The Mayor is focused on moving the department forward in the most efficient and professional way possible.  The [state police] analysis will enable the Mayor and the new Chief of Police to guide the department well into the future.  We will not let the actions of a few taint the reputation of our department. This department is now moving forward," Lopez said.

Past coverage of this issue:
For complete coverage of the issue, see:

Capt. Patalano Files Complaint against City, Seeks More than $5 Million
Patalano, back on the job after a 20-month leave, was cleared of misconduct charges by Acting Police Chief Kevin Barry earlier this month.

High-Ranking Cranston Officer Retires
Department's no. 2 ranking officer has filed paperwork to retire.

Ticketgate Probe Complete, Calls for Firing of Police Capt., Union Head

The State Police investigation into the so-called ticket gate scandal in Cranston is complete and it recommends Capt. Stephen Antonucci be fired.

Police Chief put On Paid Leave

State Police are conducting a broad review of the department's operations in the wake of an overnight parking ticket scandal.

Councilmen Say Their Wards Mass-Ticketed in Retaliation for Police Contract Vote

After voting against a new police contract, Councilmen Steve Stycos and Paul Archetto say their wards were targeted by a rash of tickets in retaliation.

State Police will Investigate Ticket Allegations

Fung: "I Do Not Condone Any Type of Intimidating Behavior"

Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung has responded to allegations of abuse of power at the Cranston Police Department over a flurry of parking tickets that two city councilmen say were issued in retribution against their votes.

Map of Tickets Appears to Support Councilmens' Claims

According to this map of addresses where tickets were issued in the hours following the contract vote, there appears to be plausible evidence to support those claims.

Were you ticketed? Here's the List

Look closely and click "download PDF" next to the image to check out the addresses.

Fung Taps Independent Investigator to Review Police Ticket Blitz

Cranston Mayor Fung announced that he has hired a private investigator to review the police department's own internal review of "allegations of improper use of police authority," according to a release.

ACLU Says Review of Ticket Blitz Investigation Doesn't go Far Enough

The RIACLU is asking Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung to launch a full-scale independent investigation.
Elana Carello July 10, 2014 at 08:58 AM
Haha, Sepe knows alll about unions contributing to campaigns.
Becca July 10, 2014 at 09:07 AM
Sepe is spot on about Fung's laptop for sure!
nicole fine July 10, 2014 at 06:19 PM
Sepe is creepy! Ever wonder why doesn't he run for an elected office?


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