Woman claims Providence police mishandled diamond ring

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Johnston woman claims Providence police mishandled her diamond ring after it was seized as evidence in a dispute with her ex-husband, but police contend the department should’ve never been told by the court to hold the jewelry.

While Serena Simeone’s case dates back to 2010, the details of what happened to the “triple diamond ring” surfaced recently following questions by Target 12. A receipt provided by Simeone shows the ring was purchased for $1,419, but it’s appraised value is pegged at $4,289.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said the ring is not connected to the missing evidence investigation that led to the suspension of police officer Michael McCarthy. The 36-year veteran is accused of taking a $5,189 ring that was evidence in a JC Penney shoplifting case. And a search warrant affidavit for his SUV states police were also looking for a second diamond ring and just under $12,000 that was missing from a police evidence storage locker. McCarthy and one other officer were the only two who had keys to the lock.

Simeone’s case started when her ex-husband accused her of stealing the diamond ring. A court document indicates the charge was dismissed March 6, 2012. Simeone didn’t file her motion to get the ring back until last January, with the motion granted about a month later.

Missing Ring
Court documents indicate the triple diamond ring was supposed to be returned to Serena Simeone.

“The Providence Police are to return the above referenced ring to Serena Simeone forthwith,” the order stated.

But when she went to the Providence Public Safety Complex to get the ring, she was disappointed.

“They told me that they can’t find the ring. Nobody knows where the ring is. They looked in the evidence room. It’s not there,” Simeone said.

In a letter to her from Providence Police Detective Mark Cabral, she was advised to submit a claim form to the city council “to recover the cost for the ring.” While the letter does not offer any information about what happened to it, Pare told us a number of details that Simeone said were initially not passed on to her. Pare said after looking into the case last month, he found out the ring never made it into the department’s evidence storage locker.

“It was determined that the ring had been returned to her then-estranged husband in 2010,” Pare said. “The ring was a marital asset in the divorce proceedings before the court with a value of approximately $1,500.”

The commissioner said there is missing paperwork in the case, which led to the initial lack of an explanation to Simeone. According to Pare, the case file did not include a “supplemental report,” which he said would’ve indicated the husband signed for and received the ring. Pare also concluded the ring should’ve been stored in the station evidence room, but never got there. But Pare argues the ring should’ve never been given to Providence police by the court because it was a “marital asset.”

Simeone was less than satisfied to find out her ex-husband was given the ring despite the court order that granted it to her.

Serena Simeone was initially told by Providence Police that her ring was missing.

“If we can’t trust the police, who can we trust?” Simeone said. “The court said it was my ring, but he ends up with it? It’s frustrating.”

She added that Pare has told her she needs to go back to court to try to get the ring returned to her.

“Isn’t someone accountable for it? Doesn’t he have to sign for it or be accountable for it?” Simeone asked. “Someone has to be accountable for a wedding ring that belongs to me.”

Simeone plans on filing a civil suit to either get the ring back or to garner compensation for the jewelry. Target 12 reached out to Simeone’s ex-husband, but he has not returned our phone call.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau

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