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As part of his recent dismissal of larceny charges against Warwick Department of Public Works employee Kenneth Naylor, R.I. Superior Court Judge Walter R. Stone said that the city did not “establish probable cause” for the allegation that Mr. Naylor took $741 worth of gasoline and cast iron pipes for personal use, according to a report by WPRI-TV CBS 12. But the judge did much more than that.
Part of the record in the April hearing on the matter included testimony from two Warwick employees (one retired) who said that it was common practice to borrow city resources, on the honor system, and just bring them back. One wonders how borrowed gasoline can be returned exactly, as well as how the pipe, which was to be used to support a sagging deck, according to other testimony, would all of a sudden become not needed.
Judge Stone’s dismissal of the larceny charges, when combined with an arbitrator’s ruling last year that the city had to reinstate Mr. Naylor with back pay after being fired by the city, means that the court has put its stamp of approval on city workers taking public property for their own use. One wonders if the next step is to allow elected officials to use public resources to pave their driveway or build a swimming pool at their house. •