Suspended North Providence police chief John Whiting was convicted of stealing money from a stripper's SUV following a chase through Pawtucket last August. However, a state law changed in June could change the final outcome.
In closing arguments, Whiting's lawyer John Harwood said that he was always going to put the money into evidence, and when he told Pawtucket police officer John Brown to spend it in Vegas, he was only joking.
"And when you stop and look at that you see the state of mind of Col. Whiting was in," Harwood argued.
But that did not answer the prosecution's questions as to why Whiting took the cash in the first place, and then waited so long to tell anyone about it.
"They waited for a tow truck together, why no mention there?" Travato posed to the judge during his closing argument. "We don't get an explanation from the defendant, after four and a half hours of testimony as to why he didn't say a word."
Before the decision came a legal numbers game as the defense motioned to downgrade the charges. Whiting is accused of stealing $714, an amount that was considered a felony until last month when the law was changed. The defense pointed out that now anything under $1,500 is only a misdemeanor.
"How can it be a felony if the legislature has indeed changed it to a misdemeanor?" Harwood asked.
The judge denied the motion, citing past decisions and the poor timing. Whiting sat emotionless as he read aloud the guilty verdict.
"At the time of the theft, the defendant had the specific intent to deprive Ms. Cardoso of the money," Superior Court Judge Daniel Procaccini said.
Whiting's lawyer says this change in law could still work in their favor in the future.
"If in fact the statute makes it less painful, certainly the defendant gets the benefit of that change because that's the public policy of the state of Rhode Island," Harwood said.
Whiting is free on bail until he is sentenced in September.