DOJ freezes North Providence's Google Settlement money - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

DOJ freezes North Providence's Google Settlement money

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By Mike LaCrosse

mlacrosse@abc6.com

North Providence’s portion a multi-million dollar settlement from Google is frozen as part of an on-going federal audit. 

In 2011, Google agreed to pay $500 million to 37 states after admitting to secretly tracking on-line purchases and page views through a web browser.

So far the police department has used about $21 million of their $60 million to buy police cruisers, fill a pension gap and build a firing range for the Johnston Police Dept.

However the Department of Justice says the town was spending the money without the proper approval.  There is a disagreement over who controls the money, the Police Chief and Mayor or the Town Council.

"I felt we were violating or weren'tin compliancee with the Department of Justice guidelines so this really has become a compliance issue with the Department of Justice," said Town Council President Kristen Catanzaro.

The issue was discussed before the Town Council Tuesday night.  Acting Police Chief North Providence Paul Martellini went before the council to defend plans to give $150,000 of the settlement money to Hopkinton’s Police Dept. for a new dispatch center.  The chief is upset at an email sent by a lawyer the council hired to work on the disagreement over who controls the money.

"He accused myself and Chief Palmer from the Hopkinton's Police Dept. of basically lying to the DOJ in addition to creating a backdoor deal in a pay off," said Chief Martellini.  He wants the lawyer, Ray Mansolillo fired.

The council could take up the issue again on Thursday.  In the meantime, the settlement money is on hold.

"It's money we utilized for training, it's money we utilize for overtime, it's money we utilize for equipment," said the chief.

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