Cote charged with harassing phone calls, claims he’s the victim

Posted 7/5/12

Warwick Police have charged Rob Cote, leader of last summer’s Car Tax Revolt, for making harassing phone calls on the basis of a complaint by Terry DiPetrillo, an employee of the Department of …

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Cote charged with harassing phone calls, claims he’s the victim


Warwick Police have charged Rob Cote, leader of last summer’s Car Tax Revolt, for making harassing phone calls on the basis of a complaint by Terry DiPetrillo, an employee of the Department of Public Works.

But Cote, who was notified Tuesday morning by police of the complaint and appeared at the station later in the day, says he’s the one being harassed.

In an email exchange, he says he feels the situation “is politically motivated against me for leading the charge in the Car Tax Revolt and for helping Channel 12 News uncover the gross mismanagement of the Warwick DPW and the attempt to cover up the theft by DPW workers at the city yard, and for being vocal in my community.”

Cote continued, “I have made numerous complaints to the Warwick Police about being harassed by city workers, including Mr. DiPetrillo, at council meetings and in public, and I have written letters to the mayor and his administration about this, all of which have gone unanswered with no investigations. This shows a pattern of behavior by the DPW and the administration for speaking out against what is obviously wrong in this city, in yet another attempt to sequester an opposing political dialogue.”

Cote also showed a Warwick Beacon reporter emails confirming proof of at least six complaints.

He emailed the reporter a post on that was sent to him by a member of the Car Tax Revolt. The post was dated May 13 of this year and reads, “your [sic] crossing a bridge into dangerous territory. I understand your [sic] upset with the way city employee's [sic] conduct their daily work (or lack of it in some isolated cases) but what your [sic] doing now is becoming VERY personal to many. I'm not threatening you in any way just trying to help. When you cause a man to lose his job You give that man nothing else to lose. Sometimes you have to throw in the towel before the war gets ugly, no harm no foul. What are you really going to gain? You've put yourself in a position where the police really aren't even going to rush to your aid...Think about it.”

In a phone interview Tuesday, Captain Robert Nelson said DiPetrillo filed the complaint as a result of an investigation involving harassing phone calls allegedly made by Cote.

According to Cote, he attempted to contact DiPetrillo numerous times after an incident that occurred June 28. At first, Cote said DiPetrillo’s phone was busy, but he ended up speaking to DiPetrillo twice for a timeframe of less than two minutes.

They then had a “heated” verbal argument immediately after the incident.

Cote, along with his friend from Massachusetts, Phil Cottone, had just returned from a fishing trip at Point Judith and were traveling east on West Shore Road in Cote’s truck, his boat in tow, June 28.

At first, said Cote, he didn’t see or hear DiPetrillo, who had pulled up to the right side of Cote’s vehicle.

Cottone then got Cote’s attention, as Cottone said Dipetrillo was yelling profanities and pointing at Cote while making obscene gestures. Cote said he was taken by surprise because he said he has been friends with DiPetrillo for more than 20 years and called him as a means to find out why DiPetrillo was behaving in such a manner.

“There was a large pickup truck that pulled up to the right side of us and a guy with a shaved head looked over at Rob and flipped him off,” said Cottone, who has known Cote for nearly a decade. “There was an exchange back and forth and Rob asked him to pull over a number of times so they could talk.”

After that, Cottone said, he and Cote went to Cote’s home and had dinner. A day or two later, Cottone received a call from the WPD.

“I told them the other individual initiated the inappropriate gesture,” Cottone said. “I’ve known Rob long enough to know that if something is wrong, he wants it fixed. Rob is uncovering some stuff and he’s speaking out against people that aren’t working. It’s about time someone stands up.”

Yet, Nelson said DiPetrillo did not mention anything about the alleged exchange on Post Road. Rather, DiPetrillo said Cote made a series of phone calls to his city cell phone in consecutive order and left vulgar messages within a 30-minute time frame.

“He did not explain to the police officer what happened in the previous driving incident,” said Nelson of DiPetrillo. “He said, ‘This person will not stop calling and he has left several messages.’ At such time when the police officer did hear the messages, it was enough to be considered harassing phone calls. The obscenities are illegal.”

DiPetrillo was contacted for comment but did not reply in time for press.

Cote said he would contest the charge in court.


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  • JustBecause

    Depetrillo never said anything to the police about the incident on the road that led to the phone calls surprise.

    Thursday, July 5, 2012 Report this

  • Huff70

    Cote is a nut. The police officer was there and listened to the threat filled phone calls. He had a good motive to fight the car tax but carried it to far, the proper forum would have been going to the state seeing they were the one's who set the valuation rates on the cars. He has a vendetta for Mr. Picozzi and will do or say anything to discredit him. Ask him what happened at his dive shop and DEM was involved or the submarine diving experience. He can say whatever he wants to wether it is true or not with no repercussions.

    Thursday, July 5, 2012 Report this

  • perky4175

    cote is a loose cannon

    Friday, July 6, 2012 Report this

  • Justanidiot

    Bottom line, never ever complain about the guv'mint.

    The man will get you every time.

    Friday, July 6, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause


    Picozzi has the vendetta against taxpayers that simply want work orders filled out by DPW workers for the work they do and accountability for all the inventory.

    Picozzi wastes more money and allows things to get stolen.

    This administration brought everything upon themself since waste and abuse started getting its just rewards.

    The mandatory sewer hook ups for elderly taxpayers in Gov Francis that could not afford them were up against the Mayor's relentless chronyism.

    I felt so bad the people fighting against that forced hookup had to go all the way to the State to get it fixed because the Mayor continues feeding off the taxpayers even if they are 90 years old.

    How can you defend such a Mayor.. how?.

    The stonewalling at finance and council meetings by the Mayor and his 5 chrony city council members in broad daylight did all they could to deny the people of Warwick respect.

    The people of Central Falls never stood against spending corruption, fraud, and waste.

    And when Warwick citizens began to ask questions as they learned from Central falls mistakes,and as we see now many other towns, they are disrespectfully told, sit down and mind your own business.

    Every bit of waste and corruption is swept under the rug.

    If Warwick is heading to bankruptcy the Mayor will allow it to run it's course. His discussions show he is in denial.

    This administration clearly disrespects the wrong citizens.

    I hope Cote and the car tax revolters continue thier fight and continue to gain support.

    Certain city workers will never open thier eyes and defend Cote.

    That is what makes Cote the small town hero that he is and your personal attacks validate it.

    Friday, July 6, 2012 Report this

  • TheDeal

    Cote is no small town hero. He's rude, vindictive and sarcastic. The irony is he is everything he attacks others for being. I can respect a man active in his community willing to spend his own time and money acting as a check and balance for municipal government. I have tremendous respect for Jim Hummel and while I often disagree with Richard Langseth, I respect the man. I respect them because they conduct themselves with integrity and class. Cote does not. He is irrelevant in the eyes of moderate people concerned with cooperation and good government. He's a small town caricature of ridiculous blowhards like Glen Beck. Even if every now and again he brings a valuable nugget to the table, his antics completely detract from any worth he might otherwise possess. Even most of the right leaning WPRO hosts think he's a clown. The won't even have him on without disclaimers that they in no way sanction or will be held responsible for anything he claims or says. I mean when right wing radio hosts issue disclaimers before speaking with someone, you know the guy plays loose with facts and hyperbole.

    Saturday, July 7, 2012 Report this

  • NotHappy

    What happend to cote moving? Guess he didn't leave soon enough lol

    Saturday, July 7, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause

    Jim hummel was instrumental in saving Central Falls from going bankrupt right?

    Let me tell you that with the way local governments run with blinders on, it is going to take a Rob Cote to snap them out of the "denial for votes " programs they are all running.

    Saturday, July 7, 2012 Report this

  • Cantbelieveit

    Gee, what a surprise. Finally, someone who is Not intimidated by this jerk! Cote has been doing this for years...and the reason no one turned him in because he has intimidated so many people that they were afraid!!! He is a loose cannon and now watch what happens....the flood gates are now open. All the people he has done wrong will all come out. No one is afraid of this so called man anymore! Everyone knows who and what he unstable man who is so arrogant that he thinks he can get away with anything and all he has to do if he got caught was to blame everyone else!!! You are not above the law cote!!!! Maybe instead of calling a press conference to let everyone know you are do actually leave. No one wants you here!! If you really wanted change for YOUR city..why didnt you run for office!!! Because all you want is to cause trouble. You care very little about Warwick and her citizens! And it's funny how the beacon only did a one sided interview (I did not use investigative report because it was an interview) when ProJo article actually told what actually happened. The Police were there in the house when two of the harrassing calls came do you explain that cote?!!! you can't!!!!!

    Leave this great city of ours! You are just an annoying pimple to us all!

    Saturday, July 7, 2012 Report this

  • wwkvoter

    I have read all the comments and its easy to see who the "city siders" are! For example the dive shop incident, if I recall, looked like retaliation when Cote pointed out issues with the Fire Dept dive rescue procedures. Then when he lit up the patently unfair and probably illegal car taxation issue, the city council retaliated by attempting to sue the Beacon, and pass rules banning free speech and signs at city hall. The city also stole his "Car Tax Revolt" signs. As to the ACTUAL ISSUES, even the "city siders" agree! This is the 1st Amendment to our Constitution at work. It protects even (espacially) uncomfortable speech and ESPECIALLY when it calls out wrongdoing by our government.

    That being said, Cote is making the wrong choice when he runs his mouth. He should in fact be more moderate. Just as strong, but more moderate to gain the respect of people who would get involved with the right venue. Warwick, for example, needs a Taxpayers Organization made up of volunteers who understand city issues and finances and who can attend meetings and contribute opposing viewpoints. Everybody would respect that (except for the few who actually get caught with wrongdoing or wasteful acts).

    But make no mistake, Cote is on the receiving end of classic city persecution, and thats just as wrong if not more wrong than him running his mouth instead of keeping his composure . I think both sides need to think about the future of our city. We have some good people running the city and a few bad apples as well. It takes members of the public to get rid of those bad apples, which is why the 1st Amendment is so highly protected. It also honors our troops and veterans to speak up and get issues out in the open, something else to think about when you see a grave with an American flag upon it. We just need to stay with the main issues, in my opinion.

    Saturday, July 7, 2012 Report this

  • Unionthug

    Cote isn't that bright.. What a loser...

    Saturday, July 7, 2012 Report this

  • schwanee

    Now let's see, We had a couple of progressive commenting,one may also be on the Council or at the State House. A few City employee's who loves what Mr Cote as done to wake-up the City and the only one who get it is the Taxpayer comment. Mr Cote does like the his name it light but that is not the way to get things done. You need to following them through, like the Car Tax Revolt? He putting a lot of time and effect in getting the Word out and got it to the State House but it never seen the light of day after that. Mr Cote if you are reading this keep your cool if you can. if your going to start something don't quit that job before it's finished... Do make the issue all about you...... Just look at your Car Tax Revolt website. To seems like a Tribute to you. If you don't believe me, send it to someone who know nothing about the issue and ask them what do they think..

    Saturday, July 7, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause

    I was there when Cote rushed to the State house at the last minute because another bill was introduced that would change the valuations of cars but keep the revenue in tact.

    Cote was there .. were you there ... were the tax payers there?

    There was nothing in it for Cote except loose another night with his family.

    He doesn't care about recognition and Cote has no interest running for anything.

    He went on the radio to get traction yet the McNamara bill was held for further study.

    Cote blasted John Brien the leader of the State finance committee "On Air " who replied to Cote,.. "Gordon Fox is the boss and there isn't anything Brien can do".

    Why don't you approach Brien about it. Cote did.

    Cote faught tooth and nail to awaken taxpayers and help them understand unfair cartaxes is about spending.

    But taxpayers have stayed home for this years budget hearings again as they do every year.

    There isn't anything else that can be done.

    Witnessing stagnant political corruption in Rhode Island I feel Cote's tone has been on key.

    Barring the State's ineptness, It's amazing how one citizen can bring so much attention to a subject.

    Rhode Island's problems are vast and extencive and for that you wrongly blame Cote, one citizen.

    Perhaps after taking stabs at Cote you would like to take a few on Gina M. Raimondo.

    It wasn't just about a car taxes and it wasn't about Cote at all.

    Taxpayers continue to drop the ball.

    Are you going to be the new pied piper?

    Cote would love you to show him how to lead people to budget hearings.

    Cote was sure to get harrassed by city workers speaking when he speaks publicly on his positions that most politicians dare not talk about in public

    because then city workers will harrass them too..

    The guy has more courage than 10 of you put together.

    So, show us how it's done.


    Saturday, July 7, 2012 Report this

  • Unionthug

    Harassed by city workers? Haha... Seems to me , the only one harrasing is the one who got arrested.... Face it taxpayers don't help him out because he has absolutely no credibility....

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause

    Seems to you?, Haha .. your opinion is a joke.

    You certainly don't speak for taxpayers trying to lower their taxes.

    You speak only for yourself to tarnish a man you disagree with or simply don't like.

    All of that is transparent except maybe to the dim people you associate yourself with.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • NotHappy

    The man was arrested! He is a danger!

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause

    Arrested, not convicted.

    Besides he is only charged with a misdemeanor .. so settle down Leroy. :D

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • NotHappy

    Ok the conviction will come soon lol, he will probably represent himself. People in this city are moderate.....when you go extreme you turn people off

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause

    Letting the people speak at a council meeting then following up investigating the people's concerns, is a moderate and reasonable thing to do.

    Stonewalling taxpayers by the 5 cronies on the council was what happened.

    Tit for tat. Cote gives what he gets.

    The more they stonewalled the stronger Cote faught. The guy is great.

    Cote showed everyone 5 council members to be the cronies they truely are.

    It was a victory for the people regardless of anything else.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause

    This was the end... of weeks of stonewalling... by those cronies..

    ( Raymond Galucci, Donna Travis, John Delguidace, Steve Colantuoano, and Camille-Vella-Wikenson)

    Look at the upset on thier faces. Extreme stonewalling to the citizens in Warwick.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause

    Oh and don't forget their leader Bruce Place ...

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • Unionthug

    Just because,

    "tarnish a man you disagree with"... He is the only one doing the tarnishing. He is a no class circus clown looking to humiliate anyone who doesn't agree with him. I'm all for lower taxes, better systems, more efficiency in government. But not going to follow a man who acts like this... Me and my dim friends will defeat him any day...

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • Sickofit

    How funny is this article. Shows who the real men are. DPW worker sticking up for the one percent of the employees who cheat the system, acts like Mr. Tough guy, flipping Cote off like a little girl, then running to the police to file a police report full of " lies of omission " Isn't that exactly what the police said in that the DPW worker left out the fact that there was an exchange earlier in the day?

    Now what about the two percent of the DPW workers who are ripping off the city? How is that fair to the ninety eight percent that bust their ass everyday to do the right thing and give the tax payer a honest days work.

    Who are these low life two percent of the workers ripping off exactly. Well let's start with the police who work hard everyday to protect the people of the city.

    Or is it the men and women Warwick taxpayers who are fighting in AFganistan. Risking their lives to protect a country where justice is supreme. Is the guy who is fighting with Cote, sticking up for the people who steal the tax payer property and time?

    The only hero here is Rob Cote who was brought up with Cristian values, and wants to live in a state that isn't in last place with everything from employment to quality of life. Are all of the people who work for 60 minutes loose cannons? Are all of the people at target 12 or channel 10 loose cannons?

    Hendrickson taught me as well as Cote to stand up for the common man protect to less fortunate and stand up for justice and to fight injustice. One thing that. I will never be,and that is a COWARD who gives someone the finger and runs to the police for protection.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 Report this

  • dipetrillo1


    Monday, July 9, 2012 Report this

  • NotHappy

    What the heck does Christian values have anything to do with this? Talk about crazy people lol

    Monday, July 9, 2012 Report this

  • JustBecause

    Sickofit wrote- " One thing that. I will never be,and that is a COWARD who gives someone the finger and runs to the police for protection."

    I think that summed it up pretty good.

    Monday, July 9, 2012 Report this

  • RobbieRoggie666

    He is unemployed; lives off of his wife and is angry because he can't provide for his family.

    Monday, July 9, 2012 Report this

  • NotHappy

    Good one!

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012 Report this