January 4, 2023
Vermont state trooper is accused of having stolen a Rolex watch and other valuables that had been seized during an arrest, court documents show. The trooper denies the allegations, with his attorney saying numerous other people had access to the storage area.
Trooper Giancarlo DiGenova, of the Williston barracks, was placed on paid leave Dec. 19 amid a state police investigation into possible theft from the barracks' temporary evidence storage, the agency said last week. It didn't provide details about the alleged misconduct, citing an ongoing investigation.
As of last Friday, DiGenova, 44, of Essex, wasn't facing any criminal charges. But state court records show the longtime trooper is suspected of having committed multiple crimes, including grand larceny, sale of stolen property and possession of stolen property.
These are detailed in a police request for a warrant to search DiGenova, his home and vehicles, and an accompanying statement of probable cause, obtained from Chittenden County superior criminal court and first reported by freelance journalist Mike Donoghue.
The court documents reveal DiGenova was suspended two weeks after troopers at the Williston barracks couldn't locate several items that had been seized from an arrestee on Nov. 22 and placed in the barracks' temporary evidence storage room.
The items consisted of a gold Rolex men's watch, stud earrings, Apple Airpod earbuds and case, keys and a wallet, according to the search warrant request by Det. Sgt. Jesse Robson. The affidavit said DiGenova accessed the storage room "numerous times" after the items were stored and before they were discovered missing.
The document states that another trooper, Ben Katz, upon obtaining a description of the missing Rolex watch, told his superiors that DiGenova had shown him a similar watch on Nov. 28. Katz reportedly said DiGenova told him he'd gotten the watch for $700-$800 from an online marketplace and later said a local jeweler found it to be a good quality counterfeit.
Shortly before he was suspended, two state police detectives interviewed DiGenova about the watch, and he allegedly told them he bought it through his cousin who lived four hours away. DiGenova said he'd returned the watch after discovering it was a fake and didn't have a receipt of the transaction nor could he provide messages with his cousin discussing the purchase, according to the affidavit.
DiGenova, the affidavit continues, said he was only trying to find his son a Christmas present, which he later corrected to be a 21st birthday present.
Based on DiGenova's statement during the interview, including his explanation for the watch he showed Katz, Vermont State Police decided to suspend him that same day, Robson wrote.
DiGenova's cousin later corroborated his watch purchase story, Robson said.
Defense attorney David Sleigh said DiGenova denies any wrongdoing in connection with the missing items.
"Suspicion of Giancarlo is based entirely upon innocent coincidence, he had a watch and VSP lost a watch," the lawyer said in an email Monday, referring to the state police. "Numerous others had access to the property storage area which, unlike the evidence locker, has never been subject to stringent security measures."
The affidavit also shows that a search of DiGenova's state police vehicle after he was suspended turned up a business card for Periwinkle's, a Burlington jewelry store and Rolex dealer. The store owner reportedly told state police that DiGenova came to the store on Nov. 29, in uniform, and asked her to appraise the value of a gold Rolex men's watch that he said came from a case he was working.
The store owner estimated the Rolex to be worth $14,000. She said it could fetch more if DiGenova had the box and watch documentation, but the trooper said he didn't have them, according to the affidavit.
On the evening of Dec. 21, court documents reveal, police searched DiGenova's home for the items missing from the temporary evidence storage room and for any paperwork associated with their sale or pawning. Police seized his cellphone and a pair of "possible diamond earrings."
It states that DiGenova is also suspected of official misconduct, neglect of duty and giving false information to police.
State police earlier said once the criminal investigation is concluded, the agency will conduct an internal investigation.
DiGenova became a trooper in 2009, and his assignments included the narcotics investigation unit. In 2019, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont recognized DiGenova with its outstanding collaborative investigation award.
He makes more than $95,000 a year, according to a state employee