County Superior Court
Plaintiff: William J. Conley, Jr., Esq.
Defendant: Gary T. Gentile, Esq.
the Court are the Town of Johnston's (Johnston) Motions
to Stay Implementation of and to Vacate an Arbitration Award
and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local
307's (IBOP) Cross-Motion to confirm the same award.
Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 28-9-14.
award concerns a disciplinary action taken against a Johnston
police officer. Award 4. The arbitrator, AAA Arbitrator Beth
Anne Wolfson, Esq. (Arbitrator), found the following facts.
Id.; Def.'s Ex. E.
Arbitrator derived jurisdiction and based her award on a
collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that governs the
parties' relationship from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017.
Id.; Miscellaneous Pet. ¶ 2; Award 4.
morning of July 1, 2015, Patrolman Adam Catamero (Officer
Catamero) was working an overtime shift for the Johnston
Accident Reduction Enforcement (JARE) program, designed to
enforce traffic laws in the Town of Johnston. Award 4-5.
During this overtime shift, Officer Catamero witnessed Ronald
Fraraccio (Fraraccio) speeding in a gray Honda at 53 MPH in a
35 MPH speed limit zone. Award 5. Fraraccio owns R & F
Auto; at the time of the infraction, he was test driving a
customer's vehicle. Id. Officer Catamero,
driving an unmarked police vehicle, attempted to perform a
motor vehicle stop. Id. He was only able to pull
Fraraccio over when he pulled into the parking lot of R &
F Auto. Id.
Fraraccio pulled into R & F Auto, he exited his car.
Id. at 6. Officer Catamero asked Fraraccio to return
to the vehicle. Id. When Fraraccio did so, Officer
Catamero began to inquire about the circumstances of
Fraraccio's infractions. Id. Officer Catamero
informed Fraraccio that he had pulled him over for speeding
and driving with tinted windows, a civil offense in Johnston.
Id. Officer Catamero asked for Fraraccio's
license and registration. Id. Fraraccio, who does
not carry his license while working, did not have it.
Id. However, Fraraccio did provide the registration
of the vehicle. Id.
the vehicle stop, Lisa Roberti (Roberti), R & F
Auto's Office Manager, came outside to determine what was
happening in the parking lot. Id. She asked to speak
with Fraraccio, but Officer Catamero told her to "go
back inside." Id. at 6-7. Roberti did not.
Id. Officer Catamero ordered her back inside twice
more, and both times Roberti ignored his orders. Id.
Finally, Officer Catamero told her to "get back inside,
or I'll make it worse for him." Id. at 7.
Roberti returned to the office telling Officer Catamero that
he was "not being very nice." Id.
witness, Luigi Bottella (Botella), a customer of R & F
Auto, testified that he heard the entire exchange among
Roberti, Fraraccio, and Officer Catamero. Id. He did
not hear Roberti do anything to interfere with Officer
Catamero's investigation. Id. Bottella also
testified, that "the officer's voice was firm."
Id. at 7. The Arbitrator notes in her decision that
the witness "did not testify that Grievant was rude or
threatening." Id. After Roberti went inside,
Officer Catamero did not write a ticket for Fraraccio, but,
instead, issued a warning. Id. at 8.
filed a complaint against Officer Catamero that same day.
Id. Chief Richard Tamburini (Chief Tamburini)
assigned Major Joseph Razza (Major Razza) to investigate the
complaint. Id. at 8-9. Major Razza conducted an
investigation by interviewing Roberti, Fraraccio, and
Bottella and reported the results of the investigation to
Chief Tamburini. Id. at 9. Major Razza recommended a
two day suspension. Id. at 9. On July 29, 2015,
Chief Tamburini found that Officer Catamero had violated
three sections of the Johnston Police Department Rules and
Regulations, "Civility, " "Conduct Unbecoming
an Officer, " and "Discourtesy." Id.
at 10-11; 14-17. Chief Tamburini issued a "Summary
Punishment" memorandum stating, "I am suspending
you for (2) days without compensation due to your actions on
the date in question." Id.; Def. Ex. C. Officer
Catamero filed a grievance regarding the suspension, but
Chief Tamburini denied it on August 3, 2015. Def. Ex. D.
August 10, 2015, IBPO, acting on behalf of Officer Catamero,
filed a Demand for Arbitration with the American Arbitration
Association (AAA). Id. at 10. The Arbitrator held
three hearings on January 20, March 4, and April 7, 2016.
14, 2016, the Arbitrator issued a written decision in which
she found that Officer Catamero had not violated any of the
three Johnston Police Department Rules and Regulations for
which Chief Tamburini disciplined Officer Catamero.
Id. at 17. The Arbitrator found that no "just
cause" existed for the suspension for several reasons.
Id. at 13-17. She found Roberti's complaint was
disingenuous, writing "[i]nstead of complying as an
ordinary citizen would do, Roberti kept trying to insert
herself into the situation." Id. at 14. The
Arbitrator believed Roberti was not a credible witness as she
had failed to mention that her father was a police officer
and that it was unreasonable for Roberti not to understand
that Officer Catamero was conducting a traffic stop of
Fraraccio. Id. at 14-15. The Arbitrator further
"Given the record evidence, including that Roberti is
the daughter of a current or former police officer and
Fraraccio's assessment that Roberti has an attitude, I
conclude that Roberti saw her boss being stopped by a police
officer and decided ...