Police Log Warwick man sentenced to
4 years for domestic felony assault
Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced last week that a Warwick man was sentenced in Kent County Superior …
Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced last week that a Warwick man was sentenced in Kent County Superior Court to serve four years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) following his arrest in 2020 for assaulting a former girlfriend, causing serious injuries.
Gregory Ward, age 38, entered a plea of nolo contendere to domestic felony assault, resulting in serious bodily injury.
At a hearing on July 29, before Superior Court Magistrate John F. McBurney III, Ward was sentenced to 10 years at the ACI with four years to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation.
The court further ordered that Ward must complete a batterer’s intervention program and issued a No Contact Order between Ward and his victim.
At the time of the assault, Ward was on probation stemming from a previous assault perpetrated against the same victim in 2019.
“For as long as I have been a prosecutor, domestic violence cases have been among those that have troubled me the most, because of the physical and emotional harm they cause, oftentimes long lasting,” Neronha said in a statement. “Given this defendant’s history of domestic abuse, putting him in prison for an extended period, where his ability to harm current or prior domestic partners he views as vulnerable will be eliminated, is entirely appropriate. I am grateful to the victim for coming forward and displaying great courage throughout this case.”
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that during the early morning hours of Aug. 31, 2020, Ward severely beat his former girlfriend at her home in Warwick, inflicting serious injuries.
Prior to the assault, the victim encountered Ward at a nearby bar and he later followed her home, despite the victim telling Ward to leave her alone, according to a press release.
Following the assault, the victim woke up bleeding from her head and without her cell phone. She ran to a next-door neighbor’s home to call the police.
The victim was transported to the hospital and was treated for serious injuries, including facial fractures, lacerations on her scalp, and a brain bleed.
Special Assistant Attorney General David T. Bonzagni of the Office of the Attorney General and Detective Christian Vargas of the Warwick Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.
At 11:32 a.m., Aug. 8, Warwick Police officers responded to Macy’s, at 400 Bald Hill Road, to investigate a shoplifting complaint.
Dispatch told the responding officers that an older white male, wearing a white T-shirt and red shorts, was leaving the area toward Cumberland Farms, according to the police incident report.
The man was described as having a “hunch back” and was on the roadway, heading toward D’Angelos.
Warwick Police Officer Zachary J. Black pulled into the area in his police cruiser and saw a man matching the description.
The man was walking in a northern direction toward the area of 50 Lambert Lind Highway on the right hand side of the road, according to Black’s incident report.
Black and another officer exited their cruisers and intercepted the suspect, police said.
“I immediately placed him into handcuffs to the rear and conducted a search of his person,” Black wrote. “No merchandise was located on his person.”
The man was identified as Michael A. Porreca, 64, of 139 Julian St., Apt. 1, Providence. Black said he secured Porreca in the back of his police cruiser, awaiting positive identification from the “reporting party.”
Another officer transported the “reporting party,” an Asset Protection Agent working for Macy’s, to the scene. The agent positively identified Porreca, according to police.
Black transported Porreca to Warwick Police Headquarters for booking and processing. He was locked in a cell and searched again, photographed and fingerprinted, according to police.
Macy’s agent said he was conducting floor surveillance when he observed a man with a large reusable bag. Using closed circuit television surveillance, the agent watched the man enter the club room department, where he allegedly selected a pair of blue shorts, which he quickly concealed in his bag, according to police.
The man proceeded toward the north exit door of Macy’s past all points of sale, but did not pay for the item. The Asset Protection Detective approached the man and identified himself, according to the police report.
The man allegedly dropped the bag and took off walking through the parking lot and north on Route 5, according to the police report.
The store detective positively identified Porreca, and the store told police they would like to pursue criminal charges and have the man trespassed from the store, according to the police report.
The shorts, described as “Club Room” shorts, were valued at $55. Macy’s provided police with video surveillance footage evidence and a photo of the stolen merchandise.
After a review of Porreca’s criminal history, he was determined to be a “habitual offender shoplifter,” according to the police report. Porreca was charged with a misdemeanor Shoplifting charge and Habitual Offender Shoplifting, larceny or Receiving stolen goods, according to police.
At 9:38 p.m., Aug. 4, two Warwick Police officers were on a fixed traffic post in the area of Post Road and Greene Street, when they heard a “significantly loud noise, consistent with a motor vehicle accident, in the area of Post Road and the Greenwood Bridge,” according to the police incident report.
The officers then saw a vehicle traveling north on Post Road near the Post Road Extension, and observed smoke pouring out of the vehicle’s front end, police said.
The vehicle, a blue Jeep with Massachusetts plates, was traveling north at “an extremely high rate of speed,” according to the police report.
“I estimated the vehicle to be traveling at 50 miles per hour in a posted 35 miles per hour zone,” Warwick Police Officer Connor R. Bemis wrote in the incident report. “It should be noted that the roads were extremely wet, and there was torrential rain in the area at the time. I further observed the vehicle traveling northbound in the right hand lane, with the driver’s side tire swerving into the left lane, crossing the dotted white lines.”
Bemis also said he observed sparks coming from underneath the vehicle, which had heavy front-end damage.
“I proceeded to attempt to stop the vehicle for the observed violations,” Bemis wrote. “The vehicle failed to yield to my lights and siren for an estimated 15 seconds, before finally pulling over.”
Bemis spoke to the driver and identified him as Jeffrey A. Andrews, 52, of 781 Williams St., North Dighton, Massachusetts.
Bemis asked Andrews to shut off and step out of the vehicle.
“As Andrews exited the vehicle, I observed him to be very unsteady on his feet,” Bemis wrote in the incident report. “While speaking with him, I immediately detected an odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath. I observed Andrews to have heavily blood shot and watery eyes, and reddish cheeks.”
Andrews allegedly told Bemis that he “hit something” on Post Road, but was not sure what he hit.
“He stated that he did not stop because he was scared,” Bemis wrote. “I observed heavy front end damage to his vehicle which appeared to be fresh.”
Andrews consented to a series of standardized field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test. The breath test allegedly recorded a 0.215 blood alcohol content (BAC) at the scene.
Police determined Andrews was operating under the influence. He was cuffed and placed into the back of a cruiser.
Andrews was escorted to the cell block area of the Warwick Police Department Headquarters, where he was searched. Around 10:06 p.m., Andrews refused a phone call, and around 10:10 p.m., he refused a chemical test, according to police.
Andrews was charged with one count of DUI of Liquor - BAC Unknown, First Offense. A Third District Court Date of Sept. 2 was set. Andrews was also charged with one count of Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test, First Offense, as well as Laned Roadway Violations and Reasonable and Prudent Speeds, with a Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal (RITT) court date of Aug. 13.
Warwick Police eventually determined Andrews allegedly hit a “No Turn” sign on Post Road, on the median of the on-ramp from the Greenwood Bridge northbound. Andrews was then also charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Damage to Highway Fixtures.
Andrews was later transported to Kent Hospital for detox and left in the care and custody of the hospital staff, according to police. … Around 9:16 p.m., July 30, Warwick Police Officer Connor R. Bemis and another officer responded to West Shore Road and Winter Avenue for the report of an erratic driver.
Dispatch told officers the vehicle had Rhode Island plates and was “driving backwards all over the road” on Winter Avenue next to Ollie’s Pub.
Upon his arrival at the scene, Bemis saw a black Jeep matching the vehicle description, stopped and running in the middle of Winter Avenue, facing east, with a female driver asleep behind the wheel, according to the police report.
“It should be noted the vehicle’s position in the roadway prevented any vehicles from passing it on either side,” Bemis wrote in the police incident report. “I proceeded to activate my lights and siren and conducted a motor vehicle stop.”
Bemis approached the vehicle and met with the driver, later identified as Zenaida Martinez, 65, of 61 Manville Hill Road, Apt. 1, Cumberland.
“I proceeded to knock on the window several times to wake Martinez up,” Bemis wrote. “I immediately instructed her to shut the vehicle off and exit the vehicle to which she did. Martinez slowly responded and as she exited the vehicle, I observed her to be highly unsteady on her feet and to drop her car keys.” Once she was outside the vehicle, Bemis said he noted Martinez was emanating the odor of an alcoholic beverage from her breath, had heavily bloodshot and watery eyes, and was speaking with heavily slurred speech, according to the incident report.
“Martinez was swaying heavily side to side as we spoke and she stated she was waiting to give someone a ride and did not know where she was,” Bemis wrote in the report. “Martinez was then observed to be crying hysterically and stating repeatedly that she never does anything wrong.”
Based off Bemis’s initial observations, he asked Martinez to submit to standardized field sobriety testing, but she refused, according to the report.
“Based on the totality of my observations, I made the decision that Martinez was in fact operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor and/or drugs,” Bemis wrote in the report.
Around 9:40 p.m. Martinez was place under arrest, handcuffed, placed in the back of the cruiser, read her rights and transported to police headquarters.
A witness at the scene, another driver, told police that Martinez was driving erratically, and almost struck her head on and almost hit three parked cars. The witness asked other bystanders to call police, while she spoke to Martinez to “delay her from leaving the scene until officers arrived,” according to the police report.
At headquarters, Martinez refused to take a chemical test, according to police. She was then fingerprinted, photographed, processed, searched and secured in a cell.
Martinez was charged with DUI/Drugs/Alcohol (First Offense) BAC – Unknown and given a Third Division District Court summons to appear Aug. 31. She was also charged with Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test (First Offense) and Stopped on Opened Portion of Travel Highway, with a RITT date of Aug. 13. She was later released to a sober party identified as Gary Robidoux, according to police. … Around 1 a.m., Aug. 9, Warwick Police Officer Evan P. Brown was traveling north on Oakland Beach Avenue when he observed a black car traveling eastbound on West Shore Road.
Brown turned onto West Shore Road and positioned his cruiser behind the vehicle, and watched as the car allegedly slowed rapidly to approximately 20 miles per hour, and then drifted over the right hand fog line twice, according to the police report.
As the car approached the intersection of West Shore Road and Warwick Avenue, the vehicle was in the right turning lane, but rapidly swerved into the left lane, without using a turn signal, continuing east on West Shore Road, Brown wrote in the report.
The vehicle was traveling at about 25 miles per hour and again drifted over the fog line three times, according to police.
“The vehicle then swerved in between the double yellow lines and the fog line,” Brown wrote in his report. “When I observed the vehicle completely cross over the double yellow lines, I activated my overhead emergency lights and conducted a traffic stop at 1585 West Shore Road, at the intersection of Cloverfield Avenue.”
As the vehicle pulled into the breakdown lane, Brown watched as it continued at an “above average speed,” heading directly toward a telephone pole, according to the police incident report.
“The vehicle’s right tires made contact with the curb, preventing it from making contact with the pole,” Brown wrote. “However, the tires continued to drag along the curb until coming to a complete stop.”
Brown made contact with the driver, identified as Mario A. Gabriele, 52, of 845 Hill Farm Road, Coventry.
“I was immediately able to detect a strong odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from Gabriele’s breath,” Brown wrote in the report. “His eyes were bloodshot and water, and his speech was heavily slurred.”
Brown asked Gabriele where he was coming from, and he answered that he was giving his friend in the front passenger seat a ride home.
Brown called in a second Warwick police cruiser, and asked Gabriele to exit the vehicle.
“Upon exiting, Gabriele had trouble balancing, utilizing the left side of the car with his left arm for balance while I escorted him to the rear of his vehicle,” Brown wrote in the report.
Brown took Gabriele to the sidewalk for safety.
Brown asked him again where he was coming from, and this time, he answered Sports Legends, where he said he had been since about 10 p.m., according to the police report.
Gabriele told police that he seemed drunk because of medication he takes for a health issue.
When asked what kind of medication he was taking, Gabriele allegedly answered, “the kind where you go [expletive deleted] yourself.”
Brown asked the driver how many alcoholic beverages he had consumed, and he allegedly answered, “just a couple of beers.”
Asked again where he was coming from, Gabriele allegedly answered that he had been at Sports Legends since 4 p.m. (not 10 p.m.), and had consumed two beers and two tequila drinks, between 4 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., according to police.
Gabriele refused to take field sobriety tests.
“Gabriele then asked if he could sit on the ground, which I stated he could while we waited for a supervisor to respond to the scene,” Brown wrote in the report. “While seated, Gabriele stated multiple times that he would sleep in the grass and would lock his car and would not drive if we just walked away.”
Brown asked him why he would sleep in the grass, and Gabriele allegedly answered, “because I’m too [expletive deleted] up to drive.”
“When I asked why he drove when he knew he was incapable of driving, he answered that he only seemed drunk because of how the alcohol was reacting with his … medication,” Brown wrote in the incident report. “When asked why he got behind the wheel, knowing his medication was affected by alcohol, he told me to ‘[expletive deleted] off.’”
When a supervisor arrived on scene, Gabriele refused a portable breath test.
Brown determined that due to his observations of Gabriele’s vehicle in motion, and his personal contact with him, “he was unfit to operate a motor vehicle safely, and would be taken into custody under the suspicion of DUI.”
Gabriele refused to stand up, so he was rolled onto his stomach in a prone position, cuffed, searched and secured in the rear of a cruiser. He was transported to Warwick Police Headquarters.
“It should be noted that throughout reading him his rights, Gabriele stuck his index fingers in his ears, and refused to listen,” Brown wrote in the incident report. “Gabriele stated that he refused to submit to a chemical test, which was indicated on the rights form.”
Gabriele was booked, fingerprinted, photographed and charged with DUI of Liquor – BAC Unknown (First Offense), and given a Third District Court date of Sept. 14.
He was also issued a summons for RITT, to appear Aug. 20, for civil citations, Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test (First Offense) and Laned Roadway Violations.
Gabriele was subsequently transported to Kent County Memorial Hospital where he was released to a sober adult, police said.