City has spent at least $74,000 on cases involving Votolato

City has spent at least $74,000 on cases involving Votolato

PAWTUCKET – The city has spent some $74,000 or more on cases involving a client of new City Council attorney Joel Votolato, according to officials.

Responding to a request from City Councilor Sandra Cano on April 5 for the total spent on three cases against the city from former firefighter Sean Gannon, represented by Gannon’s father, Jack Gannon, and Votolato, City Solicitor Frank Milos wrote that:

• The city spent $34,574 on a labor arbitration involving Gannon, which Gannon lost.

• $12,975 on an ongoing appeal of that arbitration decision.

• And $5,209 to date on a pending Superior Court lawsuit.

Milos noted that there are two other cases pending in Superior Court against city employees, which he did not include since it was unclear to him if Cano was referring to those cases as well. The city is also footing the bill for the defense in those cases, he said.

Dylan Zelazo, chief of staff to Mayor Donald Grebien, said those cases are against Pawtucket Fire Capt. Robert Thurber and his son, Robert Thurber Jr. The cost of those cases so far is $15,926 for the elder Thurber and $5,621 for his son, he said.

The total from all five cases is $74,305.

Grebien has said he also suspects that Jack Gannon, who serves as Pawtucket’s associate municipal court judge, is responsible for previous anonymous complaints related to alleged ethics violations against the mayor over the hiring of Grebien’s tenant, John Datel, as a city employee. Gannon, who works as an attorney with Votolato in the law firm of Gannon, Bailey, Donovan & Votolato, was denied on his ethics complaint against Grebien last year.

The city has spent another $8,370 investigating those anonymous complaints, said Zelazo. Grebien also spent a good deal of his own money defending himself in the ethics case, he noted.

Cano, along with Councilors Albert Vitali Jr. and Meghan Kallman, voted against Votolato’s appointment as the council’s attorney on April 5, citing a potential conflict of interest as Votolato continues to sue the city on behalf of Sean Gannon. Six other council members voted to appoint him, saying they felt he could keep the matter separate from his advice to the council.

Cano, Vitali and Kallman said they voted against Votolato because they felt uncomfortable hiring someone who was suing the city.

The Breeze reported last year after Grebien accused Jack Gannon of carrying out a long-term vendetta against him over the 2013 firing of Sean Gannon as a probationary city firefighter. Gannon has accused the Thurbers and others of being part of a fire department that failed to protect his son from repeated verbal abuse.