PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Saying it’s a black eye for all who wear the badge, Providence’s police chief announced Thursday a veteran officer on the force was charged with stealing from the department’s evidence room.
Col. Hugh T. Clements, Jr. and Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré revealed some of the details in the case against Officer Michael McCarthy during a news conference at the Public Safety Complex Thursday evening.
They said McCarthy, a 36-year veteran of the force, was arraigned in District Court earlier in the day on one count of fraudulent conversion. He was released on $5,000 personal recognizance and suspended without pay.
“He violated the public’s trust,” said Paré. “This officer was assigned to a very sensitive function within this police department and he violated that. We’re not going to tolerate that kind of behavior.”
Paré said the investigation began when the sergeant in charge of the Property and Evidence room discovered items missing from the evidence room about a week and a half ago. At that time, supervisors ordered an audit of the storage facility and launched an internal investigation.
They said the investigation pointed to McCarthy, one of only two people with a key to the evidence room.
While he would not go into details, Clements said the item was a piece of jewelry worth over $100.
Both Paré and Clements said they expect more charges to be filed against McCarthy. They said other items are missing from the evidence room and, while they have not yet connected those items to McCarthy, they said they expected they would be.
“This investigation will continue until we get to the bottom of all of the evidence that’s in there and account for everything that should be in there,” Paré said.
Clements, who’s known McCarthy for at least two decades, said he was shocked about the allegations against the veteran officer.
“At some point you have to trust individuals. Who knows why this errant behavior occurred. Who knows what is going on in an individual’s life,” said Clements, who acknowledged cases like this tarnish the department. “Why do people risk their livelihood, their careers, their reputation, their pensions….I don’t know”
Clements said Providence’s evidence room deals with thousands of valuable items every year, including cash and guns. Currently, one officer is permitted to release property to the rightful owner. Clements said they may change that process, and require two officers and a supervisor.
Paré said the investigation could take some time since investigators will have to review every piece of property released by McCarthy, and confirm it was given to the rightful owner.
McCarthy is due back in court Dec. 4.