SCITUATE, R.I. (AP) - Three Providence police officers, including a narcotics detective and a school resource officer, were arrested Thursday on charges that they helped with a cocaine-dealing operation.
Detective Joseph Colanduono, Patrolman Robert Hamlin and Sergeant Steven Gonsalves were arrested at police headquarters and have been suspended without pay, said Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman, who called it a "hard day" for his department. The officers either used the cocaine or helped arrange the drug deals, police said.
"These actions that we saw are an offensive display of a violation of trust that we cannot and will not tolerate," Attorney General Patrick Lynch said.
The arrests followed a more than four-month investigation that began with information from a state police detective and involved wiretaps and intercepted phone calls. Police seized several hundred grams of cocaine and firearms as part of the probe.
Three other men were arrested, including Hamlin's brother, Albert, who police describe as a major cocaine dealer and the primary target of their investigation. Police say Robert Hamlin, a school resource officer at a Providence high school, helped his brother avoid getting caught by giving names of narcotics detectives and providing descriptions of their police cars, said State Police Capt. David Neill.
The Providence Journal reported on its Web site that Gonsalves is a former driver for Providence Mayor David Cicilline and the husband of the mayor's executive assistant, Xiomara Gonsalves. The Journal said the mayor described his assistant as "incredibly heartbroken."
Cicilline's spokeswoman, Karen Southern, did not return calls seeking comment Thursday night.
Also arrested was Khalid Mason, who in 2007 faced drug dealing charges that were dismissed by a federal judge after a Providence police sergeant testified at a pretrial hearing that he didn't have any notes or reports from his investigation. That case is not connected to the current arrests, police said.
Mason supplied drugs to Albert Hamlin, who would purchase one kilogram of cocaine at a time for about $35,000 and break down the drugs into smaller quantities, which he would then sell, police said.
Gonsalves, 47, is charged with soliciting another to commit a crime. Robert Hamlin, 33, is charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine, and Colanduono, 44, is charged with conspiracy to deal cocaine and compounding and concealing a felony.
A phone message left with the police union was not immediately returned, and it was not immediately clear if the officers had lawyers.
State Police Col. Brendan Doherty told The Associated Press that at least some calls were made when the officers were on duty, though police say there's no evidence that any drug dealing took place at a school.
Doherty said the alleged drug dealing was "the act of a few rogue officers - rogue officers who compromised the trust of the citizens of city of Providence and the state of Rhode Island."
Cicilline called the arrests "gravely disappointing" and said the officers deserve to be prosecuted aggressively.
The investigation is continuing.
Gonsalves was released on personal recognizance by a bail commissioner Thursday evening and is due in court March 18. The other five defendants, including the two officers, are being held without bail overnight and will be arraigned Friday in Providence District Court.