Former Providence Police Chief Prignano has died

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) –  Former Police Chief Urbano Prignano has died. The news was confirmed by the current chief, Colonel Hugh Clements, Wednesday morning.

Prignano, 75 – who was known as “Barney” – became chief in 1995 under then-mayor Buddy Cianci, until he left in 2001 during an investigation into a promotional test cheating scandal at the police department.

He testified at the Operation Plunder Dome trial that he aided some officers on the test, the revelations brought sweeping changes at the department.

Prignano later had a public battle with the city when then-Mayor David Cicilline attempted to revoke his annual $64,000 pension in the wake of the cheating scandal. But Prignano prevailed after the State Supreme Court ruled a pension could only be removed if someone is convicted of a crime.

Urbano Prignano, right, walking a suspect into court in this 1976 Providence Journal photo

For six years, Prignano was a colorful and bombastic leader of the police force who worked his way up through the ranks over decades of service. As a detective, he was assigned as the handler to mobster Joseph Danese, who was cooperating with prosecutors in the sensational Bonded Vault trial of 1976.