I’d say this is outrageous, but it’s far too common and doesn’t seem to produce the appropriate outrage in the Ocean State. Stephen Greenwell reports in the Newport Daily News:
A Tiverton police lieutenant accused of sleeping during overnight shifts will retire June 30, after the Tiverton Town Council voted 4-3 on Wednesday night to accept a plea agreement that was executed Thursday morning in District Court.
Timothy R. Panell, 47, of 50 Shannon Ave., Tiverton, had a not-guilty plea entered for one charge of obtaining money under false pretenses. The charge was filed, meaning it will be removed from court records in one year provided Panell faces no additional charges.
As part of a court-approved plea-bargaining agreement, 48 additional charges of obtaining money under false pretenses and nine counts of falsifying documents were dismissed.
Keep in mind, by the way, that it wasn’t just this officer. He merely led his entire shift to have “quiet time.” The others faced no publicly stated consequence. Also keep in mind that for years, Panell was the second-highest-paid employee in town, after the school superintendent, largely because of huge amounts of overtime.
In little Tiverton alone, we’ve had multiple instances of similar stories throughout town government over a handful of years, and every time the Town Council takes one of these union-friendly pleas, one can only wonder how they don’t see the incentives they’re creating. Theft, fraud… whatever. If an employee gets caught taking advantage of the town and its taxpayers, the consequence is that he or she simply eases into retirement, with an agreement that nobody on the town side will say anything bad about them.
How could this do otherwise than make it more likely that employees will make bad decisions?
Voting for the plea were council members John Edwards the Fifth (son of Democrat Representative John Edwards the Fourth), Randy Lebeau, Christine Ryan, and council President Joan Chabot.