State police open probe into Charlestown PD; detective put on paid leave

State police open probe into Charlestown PD; detective put on paid leave

Record-Journal
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Charlestown Police Detective Ryan Gwaltney

CHARLESTOWN — A police detective has been placed on paid administrative leave and Rhode Island State Police are investigating possible criminal activity involving “one or more members of the Charlestown Police Department” following a discovery made during the prosecution of former officer Evan Speck.

Detective Ryan Gwaltney, a veteran of the town’s Police Department, was placed on leave on Aug. 29 pending the outcome of a criminal investigation through Rhode Island State Police, multiple sources confirmed Tuesday. Charlestown Police Chief Jeffrey Allen and Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz each said Tuesday that they were unable to comment on personnel matters, but confirmed the active investigation.

“Based on information developed by federal authorities during their prosecution of Evan Speck, I have asked the Rhode Island State Police to conduct a full investigation regarding that information, which may or may not involve members of the Charlestown Police Department,” Allen said in a statement emailed to The Sun Tuesday.

“Given the small size of our department, and because the investigation may focus on town police officers, I asked the state police to conduct this inquiry to eliminate any conflict of interest and to ensure the integrity of the Charlestown Police Department. I have full confidence in the state police and should their probe determine wrongdoing by any member of this department, the chips will fall where they may,” he said.

In a statement released after a request for comment Tuesday, Stankiewicz said Allen requested the investigation following the prosecution of Speck, a former Charlestown police officer, who was convicted in federal court on charges of steroid trafficking and money-laundering on Aug. 18.

“The Rhode Island State Police is currently investigating potential criminal activity that may involve one or more members of the Charlestown Police Department,” Stankiewicz said in his statement. “This investigation began based on information gleaned by federal authorities during their prosecution of former patrolman Evan Speck, who recently plead guilty to trafficking illegal drugs and money laundering. The Town Council and I have complete confidence in Chief Allen, who we are confident is taking all necessary steps to ensure the integrity of the Charlestown Police Department.”

Allen and Stankiewicz referred any questions regarding an investigation to the Rhode Island State Police. A state police spokewoman said the department could not confirm whether Gwaltney or any other Charlestown officer was a target of the inquiry.

Attorney Matthew Dawson, of the Providence-based law firm Lynch & Pine, was retained to represent Gwaltney in the case, multiple officials confirmed. A message left for Dawson was not returned Tuesday and Gwaltney could not be reached for comment.

The leave comes on the heels of former 11-year officer Speck’s conviction on federal charges of possession of steroids with the intent to distribute, distribution of a misbranded drug, and money-laundering.

According to court documents, a search of Speck’s home produced evidence of the sale and distribution of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs between June 2015 and the day of the search. The court was told that Speck had been ordering testosterone cipionate from China and repackaging it under the name TabMan Pharmaceuticals.

Speck had sued the town and the department in federal court in September 2016, alleging that his superiors stopped his pay and health care coverage, denying him injured-on-duty status, in retaliation for exercising his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He said he has ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The status of the civil lawsuits remains uncertain, but they were active in the federal court system as of Tuesday.

jvallee@thewesterlysun.com


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