Merchandise allegedly bought with taxpayer funds now part of suspect’s house sale

David LaPlante entered a no contest plea on Tuesday.

WARWICK, RI (WPRI) — A terminated Warwick School Department employee who faces charges that he used taxpayer money to spruce up his home is now trying to sell the home, with some of the merchandise in question included in the sale.

David LaPlante, 48, was terminated in December from his job as the district’s Director of Buildings and Grounds. Rhode Island Multiple Listing Service indicates his home went up for sale in January, with a purchase and sales agreement signed last month. LaPlante faces five counts of unlawful conversion.

A search warrant affidavit indicates about 300 items were seized from the home, but police did not take a number of things that were attached to the structure, including a deck, kitchen cabinets, counter tops, a dishwasher and hardwood floors,

A prejudgment writ of attachment was filed by an attorney for school committee late last month in Kent County Court, with Warwick School Superintendent Philip Thornton asking the court to order “security” for the district’s claims to just under $73,000 in “items and supplies” that LaPlante allegedly bought with district funds. A hearing on that civil matter is scheduled for next month.

Target 12 tried to get a comment from LaPlante but no one answered the door at his home.

Chainsaws, a computer and a generator were among the merchandise seized from the home in December, according to the search warrant affidavit. The document indicates LaPlante authorized $73,464 in purchases between July 2014 and November 2015, with just over $20,000 worth said to be questionable. The document does not provide a total cost to what was seized during two separate searches.

The affidavit indicates the alleged crime was noticed first by school district construction manager Robert Corrente, who spotted 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. According to the document, LaPlante then told the superintendent,”I am all done.”

City records show LaPlante made just over $100,000 a year at his job which he had held since 2010.

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

 

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