PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Embattled former fire chief Paul Labbadia has filed a lawsuit over his retirement benefits.
The state retirement board, the Coventry Fire District, its board members and the current chief, plus the town’s tax collector are all named defendants.
Labbadia, 52, of North Providence, pleaded no contest one year ago to three counts that he filed false documents to obtain a public pension.
In April, he was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to repay nearly $200,000 for fraudulently receiving retirement benefits.
During the sentencing, Superior Court Associate Justice Netti Vogel also removed one year of Labbadia’s pension credits that the state says he lied to obtain.
That left Labbadia short of the 20 years needed to start collecting.
In the newly filed lawsuit, Labbadia asked Coventry to make more than $80,000 in retroactive pension contributions on his behalf to close the gap.
Labbadia’s pension was frozen in 2015 after the state discovered the discrepancy. At the time of his sentencing, he was eligible to reapply to receive a pension using his years in Coventry, but Vogel said the state can garnish the pension payments up to 40% until he repays his debt to taxpayers.
A spokesperson for the state treasurer’s office, Evan England, said officials there are in the process of evaluation the matter.
Coventry’s current chief, Robert Warren, had no comment.
Investigators said Labbadia claimed he was working as an “on-call” firefighter for North Providence when claiming credit to receive his public pension. But state police detectives found Labbadia would have been just 13 years old at the time he claimed to have started as a firefighter.
Labbadia was indicted by a grand jury in 2015.
Prior to that, he was terminated as the chief in Coventry following a wide-ranging 2014 investigation by the Target 12 Investigators
He was seen in undercover video leaving work in a taxpayer-funded department vehicle to go play golf in another town for hours on end; drinking during the day, then driving the fire department vehicle back to work; and even taking the department vehicle to a party on Federal Hill, where he drank and appeared to smoke – and share – marijuana before once again getting behind the wheel.
At the time, Labbadia claimed the video showed him sharing a cigar with a large group of friends.
Tim White contributed to this report.