It's time to clear the air

Posted 8/13/20

Dear Council President Merolla, An open letter to City Council President Steve Merolla, During the fiscal year of 2018-19, the city council allocated $225,000 to the Certified Fraud Examiner / CPA firm YKSM for certain investigations into the Warwick

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It's time to clear the air


Dear Council President Merolla,

An open letter to City Council President Steve Merolla,

During the fiscal year of 2018-19, the city council allocated $225,000 to the Certified Fraud Examiner / CPA firm YKSM for certain investigations into the Warwick Fire Department and the Department of Public Works.  Initially, there were two allocations of $30,000 and then an additional allocation of $165,000 for further services.  The first allocation was made on or about Feb. 2018 under the council leadership of Mr. Solomon, the second and third allocations were made under your leadership.

As of this date the taxpayers have not seen the work product of these investigations.  After I personally gathered the documentation to bring to light certain schemes being perpetrated by the fire department on the taxpayer, upon your request and the request of the finance chair, I interacted with the council’s CFE/CPA firm for several months during these investigations.  During these meetings we quantified the dollar amount that was stolen from the taxpayers by the Warwick Fire Department by the use of contract manipulation and creative accounting. 

As you are aware, these contract manipulations, initiated investigations by three federal agencies into the Warwick Fire Department.  The FBI, Homeland Security, and the Inspector General of the Labor Racketeering and Fraud Dept.  As you are also aware, I, along with yourself and several others met with these agencies numerous times over the course of the better part of a year to unravel the sequence of events which allowed the taxpayers monies to be absconded.  I am happy to name all of those who I know have been interviewed by these agencies to date.  You also have that information.

Here’s what we knew:

From the gathering of several thousands of pages of official documents, we knew that there was an action taken behind the scenes to manipulate sick time and the accounting of such.

We knew that there were unauthorized verbiage changes to the ratified contract.

 We knew that there was manipulation relative to monies allocated for medical examinations.  We knew that there was manipulation of payouts for sick time at retirement.  

From text messages in my possession from certain city officials, we knew that the practice was well known by the administration and was ignored.

On the DPW side, there was suspicion of manipulation and theft of goods and improper accounting practices.

We knew that I, along with several other people with knowledge of these subjects, met with YKSM upon your request, during the time that you allocated monies to this firm.

Here’s what we did not know:

We did not know that upon retaining the firm YKSM, that the principal of the firm was your personal and business accountant and long time associate.

We did not know that the same individual was and has been your campaign treasurer as indicated on your RI Board of Elections organization filings going as far back as July 12, 2002.

We did not know that this same individual was also the personal and business accountant of the lawyer retained by the Warwick Fire Dept. hired to defend the department during these investigations. 

During multiple meetings with you, you never disclosed these facts as this was an obvious ethical breach.

Clearly there was a conflict of interest between the players that you were well aware of, and just days before you allocated $165,000 to the firm, you removed your long-time campaign treasurer from your Board of Elections filings. However, most disturbingly, as of this date, you continue to refuse to release the findings of these investigations.  This is not an example of transparency and honesty in government.

Mr. Merolla, it is your duty to the taxpayer to account for the monies that have been expended during these investigations and to release any and all official reports from the firm that was hired to perform these tasks.  I am requesting that you immediately release all documents relative to the YKSM / Marcum investigations that have been conducted to date.  In the absence of doing so, you have breached your duty and oath of office to the residents of Warwick.  I would also remind you that prior to seeking higher office, you need to fulfill your obligations and duties of lower office openly and honestly.  What message are you sending to those people who worked behind the scenes for you at your request, when you cover up the official findings of these investigations that were paid for by the taxpayers? It’s time to clear the air.  Release the reports.

Rob Cote



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One awful person accusing another awful person of wrong doing.

Thursday, August 13