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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

July 03, 2002
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Officer Who Investigated R.I. City Hall Shoots Himself

The Associated Press

LINCOLN, R.I. (AP) - A retired Providence police officer, who headed an investigation into corruption in the city's Public Works Department, killed himself while officers tried to stop him.

Lincoln police say retired Providence Maj. Domenic Baldassere, 67, shot himself in the head while sitting in a lawn chair at his Lincoln home.

Officers had shown up at the home, approaching from some nearby woods, and tried to negotiate with him. But Baldassere apparently shot in their direction, then turned the gun on himself.

In the 1980s, Baldassere headed a team of 19 detectives who investigated corruption in Providence's Public Works Department.

Following simultaneous investigations by the FBI and state Attorney General's Office, numerous members of the department were convicted on corruption charges.

"He was still in the chair when he shot in their direction, but it wasn't close to the officers," Police Chief Robert Kells told reporters at a news conference Tuesday night.

He said that Lincoln officers did not return fire.

"Heaven knows why these things take place and what goes on in a man's mind," Kells said.

There was no immediate information on what may have prompted Baldassere to take his own life. It also was not immediately known when he retired from the police force.

Among those convicted in the probe led by Baldassere was city Highway Superintendent Edward F. Melise, who pleaded guilty to extorting $64,000 from private snowplow contractors.

The investigation covered activity during Mayor Vincent Cianci Jr.'s first terms in office, before he resigned in 1984 when he pleaded no contest to assaulting his ex-wife's lover.

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