JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A domestic violence case involving a Johnston police officer, a state senator’s daughter and allegations a recording of the incident was destroyed has now provoked questions in two other municipalities.
The July 4 domestic violence charges against Victoria Lombardo, the daughter of state Sen. Frank Lombardo, were dismissed by the town in October, and her court file from the case was sealed a short time later.
According to the police incident report, Johnston Police Officer Derrick Palazzo had alleged Lombardo “attacked him and punched him in his face and eye.”
West Warwick Police Chief Mark Knot said the Target 12 Investigation prompted him to talk with Johnston police about the possible involvement of West Warwick Detective Marcus Palazzo.
The incident report indicates a witness told police Derrick Palazzo was “on the phone with a male” Palazzo identified as his brother on the night of the alleged assault.
Knot said he heard Marcus Palazzo went to the scene “to pick up his brother.”
The West Warwick chief said he talked with Johnston Police Internal Affairs about whether or not his detective did anything wrong.
“There was obviously some initial concern, but at this time there is no evidence of misconduct by our employee,” Knot said. “If something comes up, I expect [Johnston police] to alert me, and we will act accordingly.”
In neighboring Cranston, City Councilman Steve Stycos has also questioned the involvement of now former Johnston Assistant Town Solicitor Frank Saccoccio, who is currently a Cranston Municipal Judge.
Stycos has not returned requests for comment from Target 12, but told the Providence Journal the Johnston case “put a cloud over” Saccoccio and his potential reappointment to the municipal court this month.
Saccoccio was terminated by Johnston two days after he signed the document that dismissed the two misdemeanors filed against Lombardo.
Saccoccio would not comment about the video recording that a court filing stated was destroyed, but he did tell Target 12 it was clear to him Lombardo was the victim and not the aggressor.
“I followed the law to the letter and I was fired because of it,” Saccoccio said. “If it came up again, I would dismiss the case again. I did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Lombardo’s attorney William Dimitri, who filed the motion that referenced “the destruction of a recording capturing” the incident, emphasized to Target 12 the charges were dismissed on the merits of the case.
Dimitri said while Palazzo and Lombardo are out of the frame of the camera in the July 4 video, the audio makes it clear Palazzo was the aggressor.
“You can hear everything,” Dimitri said. “The case was dismissed on the merits. There were no political shenanigans.”
Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena has said he has no knowledge of the recording, but added, “If there was any coverup and I found about it, I will fire people.”