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Rhode Island State Police Intelligence Unit Dismantles an Illegal Marijuana Cultivation Operation Resulting in the Arrest of a Convicted Murderer on Parole

Contact: Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Winquist
Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Field Operations
RISP Headquarters
(401) 480-3002

Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner of Public Safety, announces the arrest of two individuals alleged to be managing an illegal marijuana distribution and cultivation operation in the Town of Johnston.

During the month of May, 2014, members of the Rhode Island State Police Intelligence Unit, along with members of the North Providence and Johnston Police Departments initiated an investigation into reports of an illegal marijuana cultivation and distribution operation being conducted by an individual identified as Gerald S. Mastracchio, age 52, of 420 Woodward Road, North Providence, Rhode Island. The three month investigation into the alleged illegal narcotic distribution operation culminated in the execution of a court-authorized search warrant on July 31, 2014 at 122 Putnam Pike, Johnston. At this location, Detectives discovered a marijuana cultivation operation, which is alleged to have been facilitated by Mastracchio and a co-conspirator identified as Joseph Ziroli, age 53, whom is a resident of the Putnam Pike address. Approximately twenty-eight marijuana plants in various stages of maturity were seized, as well as digital scales and packaging materials. Detectives also searched an additional location at 135 Central Avenue (2nd floor) in Johnston where approximately 3.5 pounds of marijuana, packaging materials and instruments were seized. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Mastracchio presented a valid Medical Marijuana Patient Card, but was well in excess of the amount of marijuana plants and processed marijuana allowed by law.

Gerald Mastracchio was subsequently taken into custody without incident and transported to Rhode Island State Police Headquarters where he was processed and charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver, Cultivation of Marijuana and Conspiracy to Possess Marijuana with Intent to Deliver. Mr. Mastracchio's Parole Officer from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections was notified of Mastracchio's arrest and lodged a warrant for Violation of Parole.

On Friday, August 1, 2014 Mastracchio was arraigned in 3rd District Court before Judge Clifton and was ordered held without bail. A bail status hearing is scheduled for August 7, 2104.

Joseph Ziroli was also taken into custody without incident and charged with Possession of Marijuana. Ziroli was arraigned before Justice of the Peace McCaffery and released on $1,000.00 personal recognizance.

In 1985, Gerald Mastracchio was arrested by the Rhode Island State Police for the 1979 murder of Richard Valente. Valente, whom was thirteen years of age at the time of his death, was beaten about his head and face with a baseball bat and tossed, while semiconscious, from the Jamestown Bridge into the Narragansett Bay. In 1987, Mastracchio was convicted of First Degree Murder after a jury trial and sentenced to Life Imprisonment. In 1990, while serving his sentence at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institution, Mastracchio was charged and convicted of Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Conspiracy to Commit Murder. After having served twenty-three years of a Life sentence, Gerald Mastracchio was released from prison, but was later returned to the Adult Correctional Institution for violating the conditions of his parole. He was paroled a second time on May 15, 2012.

This investigation is ongoing and additional charges are expected.

Related links

Department or agency: Rhode Island State Police

Online: http://www.risp.ri.gov

Release date: 08-02-2014

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