Warwick City Hall the subject of a federal probe

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — Federal agents are conducting an investigation at Warwick City Hall. The people who’ve been questioned are staying quiet about what’s going on but the city council president says people should be concerned.

A while back the city council president was questioned by the FBI. He says he wasn’t necessarily surprised because the city has been aware of a few issues with firefighter contracts from over the years.

A federal probe into Warwick City Hall is raising red flags for the city council president.

“I’ve lived in the City of Warwick since 1968 and I’ve never seen an FBI investigation into anyone in the City of Warwick,” says Steven Merolla. He was questioned by the FBI a few weeks back and says it wasn’t unexpected.

“I don’t know if I would say that it was unexpected because we had been talking about many issues in the past and concerns that we had,” says Merolla.

Those concerns stem from an independent auditor hired by the city council in January 2018. Merolla says they found Warwick firefighters had a contract that was not ratified by the city council.

“What was brought before us wasn’t the full contract and it didn’t happen once, it happened twice. As a result we ended up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars more. It was very upsetting and I think illegal,” says Merolla.

He can’t confirm or deny if that’s what the FBI is looking into but says Mayor Solomon has stopped those payments.

The Fire Union President Michael Carreiro tells ABC 6 News he hasn’t been questioned by federal agents and to his knowledge none of his members have been either. He adds the department has not done anything illegal and the issue stems from different interpretations of the same contract.

Merolla sees it differently.

“I would be very concerned if I was a resident of Warwick. That’s not the process, that’s not the democratic process, that’s not the way that it works and if crimes have been committed, then the appropriate authorities I have faith would take action,” says Merolla.

Mayor Solomon says he’s aware of the investigation but hasn’t been questioned himself.

The contract issue happened under the previous administration. We reached out to Mayor Avedisian several times to see if he’s been questioned and haven’t heard back.

© WLNE/ABC 6 2019