A Hummel Report InvestigationThis week: New information on several of our investigations over the summer. From the DEM worker living rent-free in a state-owned house...to a much-anticipated sentencing in a fatal drunk driving crash...to primary results of several candidates we focused on who had some ``issues'' heading into election day. Jim Hummel has the details.
Hummel: ``I'm Jim Hummel and we're back this week with new information on some of our investigations. Summer can be a slow time in the news business - but not this year, with primary campaigns in full swing and some of our investigations led to further investigations by the state.''
Hummel: ``We're doing a story on the caretaker's house here, at D.E.M...''
Spadoni: ``I don't have a comment.''
Hummel: ``Do you live there?
Spadoni: ``Excuse me sir.''
Hummel: ``Can I just ask you a question.''
Spadoni: ``No. I'm saying No!''
In July we introduced you to Angela Spadoni, a DEM employee who we found living rent-free for 15 months in the state-owned caretaker's house at Colt State Park, the taxpayers also picking up the cost of her utilities. Her uncle oversees the park.
Spadoni didn't want to talk to us, but DEM Director Michael Sullivan had plenty to say.
Sullivan: ``Any deviation from an acceptable practice is going to be met with the wrath of Kahn. Unacceptable.''
Sullivan tells us this week that Spadoni has paid back nearly $3,000 in oil and electricity. Spadoni is also on an 18-month installment plan to repay nearly $5,000 in back rent.
The director also says five managers who had some involvement in the situation face varying degrees of disciplinary action. Sullivan said he is prohibited from discussing specifics, but the Hummel Report has learned one of those disciplined is Spadoni's uncle Bob Paquette, the agency's parks and recreation director.
Hummel: ``In June we told you about a laid-off manufacturing executive working full-time at a computer repair shop - all the while collecting unemployment benefits from the state.''
We paid David Arruda a visit at his shop - D.A. Computer - as he was arriving for work one day, sporting DACOMP vanity plates on his car.
Hummel: ``No, we were just curious that you have the business, but you're still continuing to collect unemployment.''
Arruda: ``Well, this is not my business.''
Hummel: ``Whose is it?''
Arruda: ``It belongs to my wife, actually.''
Hummel: ``Does she work here?''
Arruda: ``Well...uh, uh, does she work here? No she doesn't, but it's her business.''
Arruda - who had been collecting the maximum $546 a week - told us he didn't take a salary.
The Hummel Report has learned that shortly after our story ran Arruda stopped collecting.
Hummel: ``Last fall we told you about a Connecticut man who plowed into a van full of college students while driving drunk, killing one of them. Now, 15 months after the accident happened he - and the victims' families learned his fate.''
Dan Musser had just left Mohegan Sun casino when the accident happened, killing Liz Durante, a 20-year-old pre-med major at Connecticut College on her way to a missions trip to Uganda. Jessica Gordon of Barrington was in the van that night and talked about the profound effect the accident has had on her. The accident forced Connecticut's governor to drop a proposal to would have allowed alcohol to be served around the clock at the state's casinos.
In late June Musser received a prison sentence of just over 6 years, one of the stiffest drunk driving sentences in recent memory.
Hummel: ``This summer was particularly busy on the political front, as dozens of primary candidates fanned out across the state. We have election results from three candidates we profiled that had issues may not have known about - until our investigations came out.''
Former North Kingstown Supt. James Halley left his job under a cloud of controversy three years ago, after the state determined his administration misspent more than $200,000 in special education grant money. Halley left with a $167,000 buyout from the town's taxpayers.
Halley raised a few eyebrows when he announced in June he was running as a Republican for the District. 31 House seat, currently held by Ken Carter. Halley, who told the Hummel Report many people still wished he was superintendent, was trounced in the primary by Tea Party candidate Doreen Costa.
In Fall River, firefighter union president Michael Coogan ran for the state Senate seat in a four-way Democratic primary. Coogan faced questions about why his construction company was doing business in Rhode Island without the required state registration - and without pulling permits, despite billing a client for them.
Coogan initially said he'd be happy to answer our questions, but he never did.
Our story became an issue in the campaign and Coogan wound up finishing third, ending his first bid for public office.
And in West Warwick, we told you how council vice president Angelo Padula Jr. has used car dealer plates on a truck he's been driving for two years, as well as vehicles driven by his mother and girlfriend.
Padula said he was doing nothing illegal.
And voters handed him a comfortable victory in his re-elected bid, on Primary Day.
Hummel: ``Tune in next week as we celebrate our first anniversary of The Hummel Report. We'll have highlights of our investigations over this past year.
I'm Jim Hummel, for The Hummel Report.