RI police chief rejects offer in larceny case
PROVIDENCE, R.I.—A suspended North Providence police chief on Monday rejected an offer from prosecutors that would keep him out of prison on charges that he stole hundreds of dollars from a stripper and then sought to cover up the theft.
Col. John J. Whiting's decision means he will face trial next month for one count of larceny over $500 and two counts of criminal solicitation to obstruct justice. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors had offered Whiting a five-year suspended sentence with probation in exchange for him pleading no contest, said Amy Kempe, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.
Under questioning from a judge, Whiting said he "absolutely" wanted to turn down the offer.
Defense attorney John B. Harwood said the decision was "somewhat easy" to make.
"I think the factual history of this case certainly in my opinion would lead someone to believe that the government has a story that's different than ours," Harwood said. "Basically the facts as we know them would lead one to believe that this man's innocent of the allegations."
Whiting, 58, of North Attleboro, Mass., is accused of stealing $714 from a pocketbook he found after chasing an SUV on Aug. 28 during Tropical Storm Irene. Authorities say Whiting began chasing the
Prosecutors allege Whiting took the money from a Coach pocketbook that he found in a yard near the crash site. He later gave the money to Pawtucket police Officer John Brown, who was called to the scene to investigate a report of Whiting being involved in a foot chase, a police report said.
Whiting told Brown he'd "never stolen anything in my life," a police report said. He also told Brown to spend the money in Las Vegas and not say anything, the report said.
After the money was handed over, Brown returned to the Pawtucket police station, gave the $714 to his superiors and told them what happened, the report said.
State police then launched an investigation into Brown's claims. Unbeknownst to Whiting, authorities recorded two phone calls between Brown and Whiting and one between Whiting and Pawtucket police Chief Paul King, police records show.
In one call, Whiting told Brown he had spoken with King and arranged to make the matter go away by having the cash put in an evidence bag and submitted as seized evidence, a state police affidavit said.
Still, Whiting denied stealing the money, telling Brown he gave him the cash because he was the Pawtucket officer on scene, according to a transcript of their conversation recorded by state police and filed in court.
State police arrested Whiting after speaking with him on Sept. 1. Police say the money belonged to Justina Cardoso, a former stripper, who is now suing Whiting in federal court.
Whiting's lawyer has filed a request seeking to have the case dismissed or evidence suppressed. The request says Whiting's rights under the state and federal constitutions were violated and he's entitled to relief. The motion does not describe how Whiting's rights were violated.
Harwood declined to comment on the motion, saying "it's a little premature."