WPRI’s Ted Nesi and Tim White have kept on the story of Frank Montanaro, Jr.’s three-year job-holding leave from Rhode Island College and the $50,000 benefit of free tuition he claimed through it, and this is starting to look like more than merely an ill-advised contractual benefit for employees. Apparently, he took up the habit of filling out forms at the University of Rhode Island asserting that he was not on leave:
Asked why he stated he was not on leave during a time when he was in fact on leave, Montanaro said in an email: “As you can see all waivers were reviewed and approved by RIC. If there was a mistake they would have had me correct it before approval.” He also said a RIC staff member assisted him in filling out the forms.
RIC spokeswoman Kristy dosReis refused to say why the college allowed Montanaro to avoid disclosing his leave of absence on the form forwarded to URI, but told Target 12: “In this case, there was an existing agreement that enabled the authorization of a tuition waiver.” (RIC and Montanaro declined to provide a copy of that agreement.)
Seems to me there are three possibilities:
- The “benefit” was simply a special crony handout offered to a government insider.
- A six-figure employee of the General Assembly made a habit of submitting fraudulent forms to secure a valuable benefit.
- That six-figure employee was so inept or careless at filling out forms as to be of disqualifying competence for his high-paying job.
At the end of the article, Republican state senator from Coventry Nick Kettle suggests that Montanaro “should pay [the tuition] back or resign.” How about both? And maybe face prosecution, as well, along with anybody at Rhode Island College who facilitated any fraud?