School department employee allegedly bought kitchen with taxpayers’ dollars

David LaPlante entered a no contest plea on Tuesday.

WARWICK, RI (WPRI) — Court documents indicate a now former Warwick School Department employee allegedly used school district funds to buy a new kitchen, fence and deck for his home, along with hundreds of other items, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

David LaPlante, 48, was terminated by the school committee earlier this month. He was charged last week with five counts of unlawful conversion for allegedly using district funds to buy thousands of dollars worth of items.

Chainsaws, a computer and a generator are among the estimated 300 things seized from LaPlante’s Warwick home, according to the search warrant affidavit and return of service document.

Most of the merchandise was taken by police as misappropriated property, according to the documents. But some of it was “not seized due to being installed and deemed part of” LaPlante’s home.

“These items included a deck, kitchen cabinets, countertops, a dishwasher, prefinished hardwood floors, LED spot lights, TV mounting systems and numerous other items,” the affidavit states.

City records show LaPlante made just over $100,000 a year as the school district’s Director of Buildings and Grounds, a job he held since 2010.

According to the affidavit, LaPlante authorized $73,464 in purchases between July 2014 and November 2015. The affidavit specifies that the list of questionable merchandise totals just over $20,000. The document does not provide a total cost to what was seized this month in two separate searches of LaPlante’s home.

The affidavit indicates the alleged crime was noticed first by school district construction manager Robert Corrente, who noticed the potential improprieties while he was reviewing invoices. LaPlante was later asked about a dishwasher and oil tanks in a face to face meeting with the superintendent.

“LaPlante was very solemn and apologized several times before telling him these items were not in or on the school district,” the affidavit states. LaPlante then told the superintendent,”I am all done.”

“LaPlante did not want to talk any further and left the building,” the affidavit states.

LaPlante is scheduled for a screening in Kent County Court in February.

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

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