PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha has decided who will be leading his office’s newly-created Cold Case Unit.
Neronha tapped Assistant Attorney General James Baum, who also serves as the deputy chief of the Criminal Division, to oversee the Cold Case Unit.
Baum will be joined by Special Assistant Attorney General Jessica Villella, as well as Providence Police detectives Timothy McGann and Theodore Michael. The Cold Case Unit will also be assisted by BCI detectives Scott Sullivan and Eric Yankee.
“The implementation of a dedicated Cold Case Unit will seek to secure long-awaited justice and closure for victims,” Neronha said.
Neronha began his crusade to launch a dedicated Cold Case Unit earlier this year, when he requested Gov. Dan McKee include funding for his office in his state budget proposal. He explained that his office was understaffed, underfunded and did not have the resources to take on cold case investigations.
McKee initially denied Neronha’s budget request, citing uncertainty over a possible recession. But the R.I. General Assembly found a way to make it work, thanks to a significant amount of settlement funds Neronha’s office has generated over the years.
“For too long, our Criminal Division has been under-resourced as it carries out the office’s mission for public safety and the pursuit of justice,” Neronha said. “I am grateful that the General Assembly recognized that fact and authorized additional full-time employees so that our office could more efficiently carry out this important goal.”
In addition to the creation of the Cold Case Unit, Neronha detailed a series of internal promotions and new hires to bolster his office’s productivity.
“Our office attracts individuals with a deep commitment to public service and justice for those who call Rhode Island home,” he said. “It is the dedicated members of our team that commit themselves to this work, day in, and day out, and I am grateful for their hard work done on behalf of the people of Rhode Island. I am proud of the leadership of those promoted to key roles within the office and am excited to welcome the newest members of the team.”
Of note, Neronha appointed assistant attorneys general Meghan McDonough to serve as chief of the Special Victims Unit and Timothy Healy to serve as chief of the Narcotics and Violent Crimes Unit. He also selected Special Assistant Attorney General Genevieve Allaire Johnson to lead the Medicare Fraud Control Unit.