Ethics Commission Finds Probable Cause Corrigan Omitted $200K Made in 2016

by | Oct 16, 2018

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The state Ethics Commission voted unanimously Tuesday that there was probable cause East Greenwich Town Manager Gayle Corrigan did not file her 2016 financial disclosure form in time and, once she did file a disclosure form, she did not report compensation of more than $200,000 from Central Coventry Fire District for that year. 

This is the second time the Ethics Commission has found probable cause Corrigan committed an ethics violation. The commission voted in September to find probable cause Corrigan illegally hired her business partner, Linda Dykeman, as finance director for the Town of East Greenwich in 2017.

This second complaint was filed by resident Renu Englehart in April. Englehart, a longtime member of the town Zoning Board, is running for Town Council.

Town Manager Gayle Corrigan, center, at a Town Council meeting in April 2018.

“I am very pleased that the R.I. Ethics Commission has found probable cause that Ms. Corrigan did not file her financial disclosure form on time and that the eventual statement was not truthful,” Englehart said in a statement.

“I found that her explanation as to why she did not file to be poor at best since Ms. Corrigan served on the governing board of Common Cause, an ethics watchdog, and appeared in front of the R.I. Ethics Commission in 2015 to verify financial statement disclosures,” she added.

Common Cause Executive Director John Marion confirmed that Corrigan served on the governing board from 2014 to 2016.

The investigation into Englehart’s complaint found Corrigan did not file a financial disclosure form for 2016 until Feb. 16, 2018. According to R.I. General Law § 36-14-16, state and municipal appointed officials are supposed to file financial disclosure forms by April 30 of the following year. 

CCFD hired Management Resource Partners (MRP), Corrigan’s company, in March 2016 – Corrigan was named CCFD district manager and MRP provided additional staffing help for the fire district. The ethics investigation found that CCFD paid MRP more than $200,000 for that work in 2016. Corrigan made $11,000 a month for the work in 2016. CCFD still employs Corrigan and MRP.

A finding of probable cause is not a guilty verdict. If the case is not settled, it will proceed to a hearing before a judge in which Corrigan can defend herself. Because there are two findings of probable cause against Corrigan, Ethics Commission Director Jason Gramitt said they may be consolidated into a single claim.  

The Town of East Greenwich has been billed $64,500 for “ethics” legal work through July by the law firm Whelan, Corrente. It is unclear how much of that work was on the two Corrigan ethics complaints or why East Greenwich would pay to defend Corrigan on this second claim at all, since the activity in question took place before she came to work for the town. Town Council President Sue Cienki said in September she would find out but no information has been forthcoming. Requests to Cienki for a comment about Tuesday’s hearing have not been returned.

Whelan, Corrente is no longer defending Corrigan on the ethics violations. In September, attorney Christopher Gontarz of Lynch & Pine registered with the Ethics Commission that he was representing Corrigan on both violations.

Find a copy of the Ethics Commission report here: Corrigan Report 10/16/2018.


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2 Comments

  1. Bill Higgins

    The deceptive practices continue

    Can we ever get the truth from this town’s leadership? Once again Ms. Corrigan proves she can’t be trusted. Ms. Corrigan hid the fact that her company received over $200,000 from CCFD. She hid this on her financial disclosure by putting N/A where you list receiving over $250.00 from a state or municipal agency (which includes fire districts). This is not the first time she has been deceptive. Back in July 2017, shortly after Ms. Corrigan recommended and hired her business associate as the finance director (The other ethics complaint), Dr. Schwager asked Ms. Corrigan if Ms. Dykeman had a salary and a contract and Ms. Corrigan said she had a salary but no contract even though Ms. Corrigan had signed an agreement with Ms. Dykeman 2 weeks prior. Let’s not forget about having to appoint an acting fire chief on a Saturday morning, “because it was required by the charter” even though the chief was due back Monday morning. The town council appointed Captain Mears for “operations” yet the agenda didn’t include the words for operations! After Captain Mears was appointed Ms. Corrigan hid the fact that she appointed herself as acting fire chief for “administrative purposes” which a judge later concluded was “a position that does not exist” and “somewhat absurd”.

    Hidden information is becoming the norm. How much did the Walker report cost? (One of the OMA violations). I tried to find out months after the presentation was given only to receive a response of, “None in the Town’s care and/or custody” and I had to wait 30 days to find this out (Not because of the town clerk who has always been helpful!). I guess he did this at his own expense?

    Lastly, let’s look at the most recent deception. One local political party has a leadership video wherein our Council President says that, “Our infrastructure is in dire need of updating. Main Street, the heart of our town, lies in disrepair due to our funds being tied up in one sided labor contracts and inefficient spending”. The truth is, Main Street is a state road (Route 1) and is repaired and paid for with state funds.
    I guess it’s easier to blame our employees than acknowledge this leadership’s fiscal irresponsibility, deception and mismanagement.

    It really is time for a change.

    Bill Higgins

    Reply
    • Joe cardello

      Bill- forget the embarrassment that all residents are faced during the past year with all this negative news about our town, our town manager should be replaced and the taxpayers should not pay her a dime for any severance package.

      Reply

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