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Thursday, 7 February 2008

Sgt. Michael Ciresi is charged with 10 counts

Albert E. DeRobbio Jr., a former state trooper who is a son of the chief judge of Rhode Island District Court, testified in Superior Court that he struck up an acquaintance with informant Mark Pine while he was serving a 30-day sentence for violating a no-contact order. He said Pine told him he had been arrested after a home invasion in Pawtucket, where he tried to steal drugs and money.
“He told me he got the gun from a policeman’s glove compartment. He was laughing that the policeman didn’t know he had taken the gun from his car,” said DeRobbio, recalling a conversation he said took place in April 2005.
According to that conversation, Pine thought the break-in at the home of drug dealers on East Avenue, Pawtucket, would be an “easy score” because he believed no drug dealer would call the police, and decided to carry out the break-in by himself. “He was totally surprised that the female in the house called police,” DeRobbio said. “By calling police, they were turning themselves in and all three got arrested.”
DeRobbio’s testimony challenged one of the key allegations against Ciresi in his three-week trial: that Ciresi participated in the home invasion with Pine, gave him the gun and a mask, then fled before Pawtucket police arrived.
Judge Robert Krause is expected to give the case to the jury today.
Ciresi is charged with 10 counts, among them two counts of burglary, two counts of conspiracy to commit burglary, one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence, two counts of receiving stolen goods, attempted larceny of currency from a stolen ATM machine, harboring and obstruction of justice.
Defense lawyers yesterday called North Providence Patrolman David A. Tessaris, who testified that in the fall of 2004, Ciresi told him at roll call that he had a generator that Tessaris might want to buy and he went to Ciresi’s house a few hours later to take a look at it.
Tessaris said he could not recall the make or model, but he was certain he saw it a “good two weeks” before another incident, on Dec. 17, 2004, involving a stolen ATM.
The timing is considered crucial because Ciresi is charged with accepting a generator that was stolen from a Cranston roofing company on Dec. 16.
Yesterday, revisiting a decision from Tuesday, Krause said he would reduce the stolen generator charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, saying it is unlikely the generator was worth more than $500 when Ciresi allegedly bought it from one of his informants, Darryl Streeper.
Yesterday, prosecuting attorneys Alan Goulart and Matthew Dawson asked DeRobbio why he hadn’t told law enforcement officials immediately when Pine told him about stealing Ciresi’s gun. DeRobbio said he never thought about it until he read a front page story in The Sunday Journal in October 2005 about allegations that Ciresi supplied a burglar with a gun.
“When I read it, I told my father, ‘This story isn’t right.’ ” DeRobbio said he passed the information to his attorney, John Cicilline, who assured him he would pass the information to authorities.
Also testifying yesterday was Pawtucket Detective Michael Demoranville, who acknowledged that he never took fingerprints of the glove compartment of Ciresi’s Ford Taurus because he was told by Detective Lt. Lance Trafford, an investigator in the Pawtucket case, that it wasn’t necessary.

Martin Briden, a retired Pawtucket police detective now working for the state sheriff’s office, said that even before the East Avenue house invasion, he had received information from Pine that his brother, Troy, was planning to burglarize the house.

The final witness, Col. Ernest Spaziano, police chief in North Providence, said he’s known Ciresi for 20 years and that he was an outstanding police officer who had numerous informants and had made a “prolific” number of arrests.
Spaziano said there were “no hard and fast rules” when it came to members of the patrol division conducting drug investigations, but generally patrol officers would advise a superior if they planned to pursue an investigation that went beyond their primary responsibility.
Because Ciresi had worked with the narcotics unit with the Drug Enforcement Administration and because he was a sergeant and a supervisor, Ciresi was generally given “more leeway” than other officers when pursuing tips from informants.
Under cross-examination, Spaziano conceded that much of his regard for Ciresi, a son of former North Providence town solicitor Robert Ciresi, derives from the number of arrests he has made and that he would have to alter his view if it were shown he did things that were wrong.


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