Cranston deputy fire chief returns to work amid assault case

paul valletta_549506

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – Cranston’s deputy fire chief is back on the job even as he faces criminal charges tied to an alleged fight with a lieutenant.

Cranston spokesman Mark Schieldrop confirmed to Eyewitness News that Deputy Chief Paul Valletta has been taken off administrative leave, more than a month after the city placed him on paid leave following his arrest.

Further information on why Valletta was allowed to return to work was not immediately available.

Valletta – who is also the head of the city’s firefighters’ union, IAFF Local 1363, and an influential State House lobbyist – was arrested last month on misdemeanor charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct following an incident at fire station 6 that was reportedly captured on audio recording. He was placed on leave two days after the incident.

According to a police affidavit, Valletta and Lt. Scott Bergantino got into an argument about overtime, and Bergantino made a disparaging remark about Valletta’s mother.

The affidavit states Bergantino told police, “Deputy Chief Valletta approached him and pushed him up against the chalkboard, punched him in the head two times, and then threw him over a recliner and onto the floor.”

Chip Muller, an attorney representing Bergantino, said his client suffered a concussion in the alleged assault.

Valletta pleaded not guilty to the charges late last month and told Eyewitness News outside court, “I’m looking forward to the truth coming out, then I’ll be back to work doing what I love doing.”

According to the online court schedule, Valletta is due for a pretrial conference on Thursday.

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