Former RI lawmaker accused of causing scene, shattering glass door at bank

EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — Former House Minority Leader Robert Watson was arrested by police in East Greenwich on Wednesday.

Watson, 55, was wanted on a warrant out of North Kingstown, police said. He was taken into custody without incident at his home.

According to the police report obtained by Eyewitness News, officers responded to the Citizens Bank on Frenchtown Road Monday for a report of vandalism. The bank manager told police that Watson had come in to discuss a letter he received regarding the status of his accounts.

When the manager tried to assist Watson, the report states that he became angry and started yelling and screaming profanities at the manager and other employees. The manager told police he feared for the safety of his employees and that he “didn’t know what [Watson] would do.”

“I’m sure he regrets what he did. There’s no doubt in my mind. Anybody would,” said Capt. Paul Barry of the North Kingstown Police Department.

Citizens Bank branch where the altercation took place (Madeleine Wright | WPRI-TV)
Citizens Bank branch where the altercation took place (Madeleine Wright | WPRI-TV)

Watson kicked the glass door upon exiting the bank, causing it to shatter, according to the report. As Watson drove off, he reportedly yelled to the manager, “send me the bill!”

“Well Mr. Watson was screaming, caught the attention using profanities, so it obviously raised the attentions of the patrons of the bank,” Barry said.

Upon further investigation, police said they discovered Watson’s license was suspended.

A warrant was put out for Watson’s arrest, and he was taken into custody Wednesday on charges of vandalism, disorderly conduct, and driving with a suspended license.

This was not Watson’s first brush with the law. In 2011, he was arrested in Connecticut and charged with DUI and marijuana possession, but the case was later dropped.

The following year, he was pulled over in South Kingstown and charged with marijuana possession.

Watson also made headlines during the 38 Studios debacle, with stern remarks he made on the house floor during the 2010 debate over the loan guarantee program that would eventually fund Curt Schilling’s failed venture.

“Scandal finds money and mark my words this will eventually happen here,” Watson said before the bill was passed by the House.

Target 12 has reached out to Watson and his attorney but has not yet heard back.

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