I-Team: Tiverton served with whistleblower lawsuit - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

I-Team: Tiverton served with whistle-blower lawsuit

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A lawsuit filed in Newport County Superior Court by Larry Faulkner spells out a complaint under Rhode Island's Whistle-blower Protection Act.

The NBC 10 I-Team interviewed Faulkner during the course of a hidden camera investigation into Faulkner's boss Bob Martin, the town's maintenance foreman.

The I-Team watched Martin for two months working on his own apartment buildings, on town time, in Tiverton and in Fall River.

Martin denied the allegations and said he has done work using sick and vacation time.

Records obtained by the I-Team, show every time NBC 10's cameras were watching him, Martin was on the clock.

Faulkner was seen on camera hauling lumber into one of his boss's rental houses on town time.

"I was questioning him saying, 'What's going to happen to me if I get caught?' I then got a big threat, stating that if I opened my mouth up to anybody I would be ruined in this town and not have a job again," Faulkner said.

Faulkner went to then town administrator Jim Goncalo upset and showed him pictures of some of the work he had done for his boss. A day later, Faulkner was fired.

The reasons were spelled out in a letter from Goncalo dated Oct. 21 stating Faulkner had used excessive personal time during working hours, talked on a cell phone and left materials at a job site.

Five days after the I-Team's initial story aired in October, Goncalo abruptly retired, Martin was placed on unpaid leave for 30 days, and the Rhode Island State Police began investigating complaints. Martin's unpaid suspension has been extended another 30 says until Dec. 31, according to interim town administrator Nancy Mello.

Faulkner's lawsuit claims he was fired for all the wrong reasons.

A portion of the lawsuit states, "Robert Martin was directing the Plaintiff to do repair work at various apartments owned by Mr. Martin … the reasons given for the Plaintiff's discharge were a pretext, and the true motive was to punish him for reporting Mr. Martin's breach of law and to suppress those breaches."

Faulkner's suit claims he has suffered lost income and grave and emotional distress.

He's asking for full compensation for his alleged wrongful discharge and reinstatement to his position with the town of Tiverton.

The suit has been sent to the town's insurance company, Rhode Island Interlocal Risk Management Trust, according to Mello.

  • NBC 10 I-Team

  • Call the I-Team Fraud and Waste Hotline at 401-455-9123 or e-mail iteam@wjar.com.

    About the I-Team

    NBC 10's I-Team was the first investigative unit in Rhode Island.

    Formed in 1979, the I-Team has produced award-winning investigations into organized crime, public corruption and social issues ranging from child abuse to battered women.

  • The I-TeamMore>>

  • Katie Davis

    Katie Davis

    Katie Davis is an I-Team reporter at NBC 10. She joined the team in January 2010 and is excited to live and work in New England.
    Katie Davis is an I-Team reporter at NBC 10. She joined the team in January 2010 and is excited to live and work in New England.
  • Parker Gavigan

    Parker Gavigan

    Parker Gavigan is an Associated Press award-winning journalist, and was named to the NBC 10 I-Team in January 2013. Parker digs deeper to get the answers that matter to you.
    Parker Gavigan is an Associated Press award-winning journalist, and was named to the NBC 10 I-Team in January 2013. Parker digs deeper to get the answers that matter to you.
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