Republican mayoral candidate Peter Filippi is firing back against critics who have anonymously sent voters unflattering photographs and information on an alleged criminal record. Filippi says this record is not what it seems, and accused his opponents of mounting a smear campaign to distract from the issues most important to the race.
“The cowards who decline to expose themselves have engaged in a smear campaign unlike anything our town has ever experienced,” he said. “I realized the unions and the Democratic Party are one in the same when they distributed those pictures and flyers. It clearly demonstrated how little respect they have for our town’s residents.”
Filippi’s first recorded run-in with law enforcement happened in 2001, at the former Mario’s Showplace on Atwood Avenue. According to a Johnston Police report, Filippi was arrested for disorderly conduct on April 21, 2001. The narrative from Cpt. Raymond Skomin states that officers responded to a call from Mario’s and found Filippi and a friend in the parking lot, and they appeared to be intoxicated. The two men were removed from the club for allegedly “acting inappropriately” toward a dancer. The manager of the business claimed that while Filippi and his friend were leaving, they threw punches at the bouncers, and then fell down the outside stairs on their own, causing visible injuries. At that time, Filippi was bleeding from a laceration on his cheek. The narrative goes on to say that Filippi could not immediately be processed, “due to his intoxicated state.”
Ultimately, however, in November of 2001, the disorderly conduct charges were dismissed.
Filippi’s recollection of these events is significantly different. He says he and his friend stopped at Mario’s for a drink on their way home. When they sat down, the dancer came over “and was very aggressive,” making Filippi uncomfortable, he said.
“I frantically looked in my wallet for a dollar to get rid of her, but my smallest bill was a $20 [bill]. I then put my wallet away and immediately asked my buddy for a dollar. As he was going into his pocket, three bouncers came over and told us to leave,” Filippi recalled.
Filippi claims he was grabbed and pushed to the door, and then “thrown down a flight of cement steps.”
The response from police, he continued, was a direct result of his politics, and his open criticism of police union contracts.
“We were victims of three very brutal bouncers, with severe injuries, and we were arrested,” he said.
Filippi points to the case’s dismissal as proof that he was in the right that evening.
The second case being highlighted in distributed literature details how Filippi was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor and resisting arrest.
On March 11, 2009, around 10:39 p.m., an Attleboro Police Officer observed a vehicle in the parking lot of the ETC Lounge that had its engine and running lights activated. The officer observed a male subject, later identified as Filippi, slumped forward in the driver’s seat.
After knocking several times to no avail, the officer opened the driver door and shook Filippi awake.
“Finally, after shaking and shouting at the subject to wake up for several moments, the subject opened his eyes and turned to look at this officer,” the narrative states.
The police report claims that Filippi “grasped for the vehicle’s gear shift lever,” leading him to believe he was attempting to leave the scene.
That, Filippi said, is untrue, and is the key to the story.
“Yes, I drank too much that night, but I did not drive my car,” he said. “I thought I’d make the best out of a bad situation, but it was cold and I started [the car] to keep warm. I thought if I could sleep for a few hours, I’d be okay to drive home.”
Filippi says he did sleep for an hour, and that was when the police showed up. While the police report claims that Filippi was too intoxicated to stand, and hit his face on his car door, Filippi counters with a claim of police brutality.
“I have arthritis in both knees and as I was falling and tried to brace myself; I was hit with a night stick across my face,” he said.
The police in Attleboro claim that Filippi’s injuries were again self-inflicted, and that he was “verbally abusive” toward the officers and also resisted arrest.
Robert Sandberg with the Republican Town Committee says he puts little stock in these reports being distributed, because they are unsigned and no one in particular has taken credit for them, other than to sign as “we Democrats and unaffiliated voters.” He questioned if the images included, showing Filippi’s injuries, were doctored.
“The officer stated that Mr. Filippi was sitting there in his car and he wasn’t moving. It’s not illegal; I don’t care how drunk you are, to sit in your car in a parking lot with the motor running and the heat on. It really smacks of police brutality in that case,” he said.
Personally, his opinion of Filippi is unchanged.
“I’ve known him for quite a while, he’s always seemed like a decent enough person,” he said, noting that the endorsed Republican has done his homework on issues affecting the town and is campaigning properly.
When asked who he thought had distributed the papers, Sandberg says he has no specific names but can guess who is behind it.
“It’s the Democratic Party, obviously,” he said.
After reviewing the criminal history himself, Mayor Joseph Polisena said he is not surprised by Filippi’s past, and said he does not believe his claims that the police reports were fabricated, especially by a department in Massachusetts that is not likely familiar with his public commentaries in Johnston.
“This guy has truly disgusting and disruptive behavior. Mr. Filippi is far from the moral fiber of this town. The man needs help,” Polisena said.
The mayor said he is likewise not surprised that Filippi has enemies who would choose to distribute this information, though he denied any connection to the literature. He says he was anonymously sent the records himself two years ago but saw no reason to take action.
“He attacks every group. Obviously, Mr. Filippi has made a lot of enemies,” he said.
Polisena went as far as to call his opponent a “deviant” and “an embarrassment” to the town.
“Peter Filippi is no role model for this town. He’s just a hypocrite,” he said. “I’m glad the Republicans have embraced him. They can stand at the polls with him and answer questions to his past.”
Filippi maintains he is ready to answer those questions and defend himself. He says his experiences have not stopped him from getting his message out, and his fiscal conservatism remains the reason he is running for mayor.
“The unions in this town are a disgrace and we need to take our government back. We need courageous leadership that has the courage to stand up to these special interests to stop the bleeding of our taxation,” he said.