October 31, 2014
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Porch meeting a bust but pay cut anyway

True to his word, Johnston Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini joined a delegation of town officials who went to the Plainfield home of accused marijuana dealer David Lashus for a disciplinary meeting last Friday.

“It’s an unusual situation,” Tamburini said last week, after Lashus was put on surety bail and home confinement for the controlled substance charges against him. “In my department, we have a clear, set policy when it comes to this sort of thing. This is new to the Fire Department. He’s on home confinement, so we’ll go to him. We just want to be sure that we do everything right.”

The policy Tamburini was referring to is the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. No such set policy is in place for fire departments.

Town Solicitor Billy Conley and other officials showed up on firefighter David Lashus’s front porch after they say he's been ducking their attempts to hold a hearing with him for the last several days. It was reported that Lashus did not come to the door but did go to a window and draw down the window shade.

Lashus’ woes began last week, after his son accepted a package reportedly containing eight pounds of high-grade marijuana from California. Incident to entering the home, police found marijuana cultivating paraphernalia, 15 pounds of apparently home grown pot, 100 plants and drying and packaging equipment, almost $8,000 in cash, two semi-automatic rifles, three pistols and a shotgun.

Rhode Island State Police detectives arrested Lashus last week after raiding his home and finding what they describe as an illegal marijuana-growing operation, cash and several weapons.

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena was particularly outraged about the arrest because Lashus has been collecting disability pay from the Fire Department since 2009, when he left the job after reporting he had an on the job back injury. He has since been collecting his $51,000 salary.

The president of Local 1950, the union that represents Johnston Firefighters, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In the wake of his arrest, town officials tried to take action against him but Lashus didn’t show up at Town Hall for a disciplinary hearing, or was not allowed to leave the confines of his home under his bail, so, Polisena, Solicitor Conley, Tamburini and Fire Chief Tim McLaughlin showed up on his front porch to try to conduct the hearing. Lashus refused to let the officials in.

“We wanted to make sure that he got his due process rights, so we asked him to come to the Town Hall or we would go to his house, but he didn’t want to do that,” said Conley. “We suspended him without pay on Monday, pending the outcome of the criminal case.”


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