As we head into 2012, the Hummel Report brings you new information on some of the investigations from 2011,
and in one case a story we first brought you two years ago.
In December of 2009, we told you about cracks in the brand new $15-million, taxpayer-funded, Warren Bridge — finished months behind schedule and millions over budget. Even before the first vehicle passed over the newly-paved structure, clearly-visible cracks had popped up on the east approaches to the bridge, and on both sidewalks.
We pressed the Department of Transportation’s chief engineer, Frank Corrao, who insisted the cracks were not structural. And, he vowed the contractor, Aetna Bridge, would make good on the project.
“When he leaves that project, it will be a sound, aesthetically pleasing project that will service the state of Rhode Island for many years to come,” Corrao said in an interview with The Hummel Report.
The contractor put unsightly sealant on both sides, and Corrao said it would fade with time. But when we went back this month — more than two years after the bridge opened — the sealant had faded and the cracks reappeared. The department said replacing the sidewalks was not an option.
A statement issued to The Hummel Report by a D.O.T. spokeswoman contradicted what Corrao promised in 2009. “The sealant, while not aesthetically pleasing, is an acceptable and practical solution to the surface cracking on the sidewalks. It will reduce the potential for premature deterioration of the sidewalks.”
Reduce, but not eliminate.
In July, we reported on recurring engine problems in four high-tech boats used by local fire departments for emergency response in the communities surrounding the Port of Providence; Warwick, Cranston, East Providence and Providence.
Now we find there is good news and bad news.
The good news is that the boats, which cost close to $600,000 each, will each be getting new engines, after the original manufacturer — Mercury-Cummins — balked at replacing defective engines, despite numerous breakdowns while still under warranty. The Cranston fire boat, which has been out of commission for more than a year and sitting on blocks behind the station on Oaklawn Avenue, is first in line for a retrofit.
The bad news: taxpayers will shell out another $800,000 to fix the problem. Local fire officials have secured federal port security funds to pay for the project.
The Coogan Chronicles
Fall River’s Michael Coogan continues to make headlines. Our initial investigation showed that Coogan — a candidate for the Massachusetts state Senate in 2010 — was working as an unlicensed contractor in Rhode Island. Barrington lawyer John Angelo filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Contractor’s Registration and Licensing Board — claiming shoddy work and that Coogan did not pull the required permits for the job — even though he included a line item on the estimate of $800 for the permits.
The contractor’s board ordered him to pay $18,000, but Coogan has not responded to the civil judgment. As a result, he now faces a misdemeanor criminal charge from the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office.
But that’s only part of the story with Coogan, who doubled as the president of the Fall River firefighters union and was a strong supporter of Mayor William Flanagan, who was re-elected in November.
Flanagan, in November, appointed Coogan, a lieutenant, as interim chief after forcing out veteran Chief Paul Ford — causing an uproar within the department. Flanagan has since suspended Coogan after questions arose about union work he did on city time — something sources say Flanagan knew about already.
Coogan’s criminal case in Rhode Island comes up in January.
In September, we told you about a Warwick man and native of the Soviet Union charged by the feds with identity theft. Evgueni Tetioukhine came to the United States in 1991 as a college student on a visa from the Soviet Union. He was befriended by a man in Providence who offered to “adopt” him as the Soviet Union was falling apart, which he said would allow Tetioukhine to remain in the United States.
The man gave him a new name and social security number that later turned out to be his biological son’s. Twenty years later, that would come back to haunt him as the biological son — through a Facebook search — had suspicions his name was being used. He went to the authorities, and a year ago Tetioukhine was charged by the federal government with identity theft, even though he had been working and paying taxes in Rhode Island, living in Warwick with his wife and young son.
He has been at the Wyatt Detention facility since his arrest on Nov. 10th, 2010. After a two-day trial in September, a jury found him guilty, his explanation of what happened notwithstanding. Last month, Chief Judge Mary Lisi heard the case and said Tetuoukin’s claim that he was naïve didn’t hold up and that he had been living a lie. She sentenced him to four years in prison.
A year ago at this time, Rehoboth Police Chief Stephen Enos thought he had escaped the fallout from a Christmas party in East Providence where he mixed Vicodin and alcohol, and wound up lying on nearby sidewalk crying. It turns out the fallout was just beginning.
Two of the town’s three selectmen chalked it up to a “bad mistake” but didn’t discipline Enos. The third resigned in protest. A subsequent Hummel Report investigation turned up new details and a steady drumbeat of bad publicity resulted in an overhaul by the voters last April of the Board of Selectmen.
In May, that new board placed Enos on administrative leave and opted not to renew the chief’s three-year contract, which expired in September. Enos unsuccessfully sought a private investigator’s license from the city council in East Providence, where he had been a policeman for two decades.
A selection committee for a new chief will begin meeting this month, with an eye toward having a chief on board sometime in the spring.
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