Santoro enters Alford plea in assault case from October

Santoro enters Alford plea in assault case from October

CUMBERLAND – Paul Santoro, a first-term commissioner with the Cumberland Fire District and former challenger to Rep. Mia Ackerman in House District 45, covering Cumberland and Lincoln, entered a misdemeanor Alford plea to assault and battery charges in Superior Court Tuesday.

Santoro had been facing felony charges related to accusations he shoved a firefighter into a hot grill last fall.

An Alford plea is a no contest plea of a defendant who proclaims he is innocent of the crime, and differs from the standard nolo contendre (no contest) plea in that it doesn’t state that there are sufficient findings of guilt, according to Santoro’s attorney, John Harwood.

The misdemeanor plea was “a very good thing,” Harwood told The Breeze. His client will have no criminal record following court proceedings.

“It’s a good situation for everyone involved,” he said.

Santoro, who is running for re-election this fall as an at-large member of the Fire Committee, said he, too, was happy with the outcome, particularly that his actions were deemed a misdemeanor.

“I wish it never would have happened in the first place,” he said. “I wish I hadn’t put myself in that position.” He maintained that he’s “absolutely innocent” of what he was accused of, and the incident did not happen as described.

The Cumberland resident will likely be subject to paying court costs and restitution, said Harwood.

Santoro had been facing felony assault and battery and misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges stemming from an incident on Oct. 7, 2017, where he was accused of shoving a Pawtucket firefighter and former fire commissioner into a grill, burning his arm. The victim, Christopher Parent, reported that Santoro pushed him into the grill.

The incident occurred at the public safety hall on Cray Street in Cumberland.

According to accounts from those who were there last fall, Santoro was discussing firefighting issues with Parent when some disagreements arose. Santoro reportedly asked Parent if he wanted to go out back. Thinking the commissioner wanted to be able to talk more freely, Parent went with him through the kitchen, where Santoro reportedly rushed him, pushing him into the grill.


First he states that "his actions" were found to be a misdemeanor. Then we see that he claims: "He maintained that he’s “absolutely innocent”." Absolute is Absolute. Either one is innocent or one is guilty pleading an Alford plea. Paying court cost and retribution (payment to the victim) kind of points to guilty. Please do Cumberland a favor...

I would like to clarify the definition of an Alford Plea for all to understand. Taken directly from the legal texts....”An Alford Plea is a GUILTY PLEA of a defendant who proclaims he is innocent of the crime, and admits that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”. “Despite claiming innocence, a typical Alford defendant considers the evidence too strong to go to trial”. You are being held responsible for court costs, and restitution for medical expenses and further repair to damages. I would think instead of claiming your innocence in spite of the facts, you would be grateful the victim agreed to allowing you to plead an Alford Plea and move on without further court involvement and damage to your medical profession.