PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A veteran Providence police officer was nabbed in an early morning sting and is accused of stealing inserts, fliers and coupons that go into newspapers.
Jesse Ferrell, 49, of Providence, was arrested by members of the Providence Police Office of Professional Responsibility Friday morning attempting to break into a facility on Harris Ave., according to Commander Thomas Oates.
Oates said the police department received a complaint “about two weeks ago” from business “Distribution Services of Rhode Island” at 135 Harris Ave., in Providence.
“The complaint they had was they had materials there that are placed into the newspapers as part of the home distribution [like] coupons, inserts and fliers that was being stolen,” Oates said. “They realized this potentially had been going back four to six weeks, maybe longer.”
Oates said the company is an independent contractor that delivers the Providence Journal.
Investigators set up surveillance on the Harris Ave. building when they observed Ferrell, according to Oates. He was taken into custody around 6 a.m. and was off-duty at the time.
He declined to say what Ferrell was doing with the coupons and fliers he was allegedly stealing saying the investigation is ongoing.
Ferrell has been charged with breaking and entering and larceny and was arraigned before a justice of the peace at Providence police headquarters Friday evening.
He was released on $10,000 personal recognizance. He is due back in court in July for a pre-trial hearing.
Ferrell has been suspended without pay, according to Oates.
“He’s a well-liked officer,” said Sgt. Bob Boehm, the president of the Providence Police Union. “So this is a surprise to us.”
Boehm says the union was notified of Ferrell’s arrest Friday morning. Boehm said while the union typically defends officers who are falsely accused of wrongdoing, it has not formed an opinion on this case yet. He said Ferrell has not contacted the union for advice or legal help.
Efforts to reach Officer Ferrell at his home and by phone were unsuccessful.