PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A police chief convicted of stealing $714 from a stripper's pocketbook following a chase was sentenced Friday to serve six months in prison.
Former North Providence police Chief Col. John Whiting received a five-year sentence, with six months to serve in prison and 4 1â„2 years of probation. He was also ordered to undergo anger management counseling. The sentence will not be imposed while Whiting files an appeal.
Before delivering the sentence, Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Procaccini said Whiting's actions hurt the victim, a patrolman he asked to take the money and the entire law enforcement profession. Procaccini said Whiting had not shown remorse for his actions.
"The town of North Providence deserves better than what it received from the chief of police," Procaccini said. "He took an oath. He broke those solemn promises."
Whiting didn't address Procaccini before the sentence was announced and didn't comment after Friday's hearing. As the sentence was announced, Whiting's wife and daughter sobbed. Whiting's attorney, John Harwood, said he would appeal.
Whiting, 58, was convicted in July on charges including larceny over $500. The case began when Whiting came across the woman's Ford Explorer as the remnants of Hurricane Irene hit the area on Aug. 28, 2011. Whiting testified that while he was trying to pass the SUV, someone inside threw an object at his vehicle. Whiting said he chased the vehicle until it struck a parked car. The occupants of the vehicle then fled, including the vehicle's owner, Justina Cardoso, who worked at the time as a dancer at the Satin Doll strip club in Providence. She testified that she left behind her money and other belongings.
Whiting said he went through the SUV to determine who had been inside and found money in a zippered pouch and put it in his pocket for safekeeping. But prosecutors said he bypassed normal procedures for searches and did not initially turn the money over, passing up several opportunities to give it to the officer who responded to investigate, Pawtucket police Officer John Brown.
Brown testified that later in the day, Whiting confessed to stealing the money and told Brown to spend it in Las Vegas.
While Whiting did not address the court, his adult daughter Kasia Whiting did, telling Procaccini that her father is "the most honest and trustworthy man and police officer that I've ever met."
Harwood had asked that Whiting serve no jail time for the offenses - which is what state sentencing guidelines would suggest for a person without a previous criminal record. He said the incident was an "aberration" in an otherwise long and successful police career.
"He has been devastated," Harwood said. "He is remorseful. He has hurt his family. He's ruined his reputation. He's lost his job."
But Procaccini agreed with prosecutors who said Whiting deserved to be punished because of his status as a top law enforcement officer. Procaccini also said Whiting had shown no remorse.
"I have to say, I believe he believes nothing happened," Procaccini said.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, a former Pawtucket police officer, did not attend the hearing. He said in a statement that the sentence is "fair and appropriate" and that "no one is above the law; no one more so than an individual who has the tremendous responsibility of leading a police department."
Whiting remains on unpaid suspension while the legal proceedings against him continue, though Harwood said his client is no longer working for the department.