SMITHFIELD – One can’t be both a first responder and someone who participates in illegal drug use and distribution, says labor attorney Vincent Ragosta, who is representing Smithfield in its labor arbitration case against former Smithfield firefighter Thomas Mulcahey.
Fired over criminal activity that later was pleaded down to a lesser charge, former Smithfield firefighter Mulcahey is suing the town for his job and pension back.
“It’s been the town’s view that drug use, drug dealing, and affiliation with drug dealers, gun runners, are completely incompatible of a position of public trust as a firefighter,” Ragosta said.
Discussions continued in executive session on Tuesday, a process that will likely see the town enter a deal with Mulcahey, said Ragosta. On the agenda is a discussion and possible vote to finalize any settlement agreement from the arbitration.
Ragosta also represents the state police in labor arbitration, telling The Valley Breeze & Observer that his contacts within the State Police helped create a strong case against Mulcahey.
“Over the course of time since he was terminated, the town received full cooperation from the State Police and AG, so the town can present a case to establish just cause for termination,” Ragosta said.
In an arbitration case, the town has the burden of proof that it has just cause to fire Mulcahey based on off-duty conduct, Ragosta said. Records related to wiretaps of Mulcahey’s activity with “outlaw motorcycle gangs” prove that he can’t work with public trust, Ragosta said.
Ragosta said the implications of a first responder helping drug-overdose victims while at the same time dealing drugs creates an obvious problem.
Mulcahey was arrested in 2018 during the Rhode Island State Police investigation Operation Patched Out, where more than 50 members of the Woonsocket-based Pagans and Krytpmen motorcycle clubs were arrested.
Officers seized guns and large quantities of marijuana, crack cocaine and heroin during the bust.
Mulcahey received four felony charges that were reduced to two misdemeanors in December 2018. Smithfield officials fired Mulcahey in January 2020, and representatives from his union, the Local 2050 of the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters, almost immediately responded that the town violated the terms and conditions of his employment.
The union requested that Mulcahey be reinstated and receive lost wages and benefits with interest. Until termination of his employment, Mulcahey was on paid administrative leave.
Mulcahey’s representative could not be reached for comment this week.
While Mulcahey fights for his job back, Ragosta said Smithfield is fighting to keep him out of a town position.
“A person in position of public trust has broken the trust, committed crimes, and wants to come back to work,” Ragosta said.
According to the search warrant, Mulcahey, who was 55 at the time of the arrest, was “patched over” to become a member of the Pagans motorcycle club after being a full-patch member of the Kryptmen.
The same warrant affidavit describes wired phone conversations of Mulcahey and incarcerated Kryptmen club leader Rodney Lambert discussing the quality of cocaine and using the illegal drug.
Mulcahey went on to work closely with Pagan leader Deric “Tuna” McGuire, who was also arrested and charged.
Documents describe Mulcahey as a large-scale manager of the illegal narcotics distribution business, with references to cooking cocaine and re-rocking cocaine into crack.
In a court-issued wiretap on April 23, 2018, Mulcahey discusses with a gang member that “I got work tonight,” referring to his shifts at the SFD, while inquiring about purchasing more cocaine for his customers. Wiretaps quote Mulcahey and McGuire discussing his employment as a firefighter more than once.