WILLISTON — A longtime Vermont State Police trooper currently on paid leave following a complaint about items missing from a property room at the state police barracks in Williston, denied any involvement when confronted by detectives, court papers show.
Trooper Giancarlo DiGenova of Essex is under criminal investigation for suspicion of grand larceny, sale of stolen property, official misconduct, neglect of duty and false information to police, court records show.
DiGenova was wearing his Vermont State Police uniform when he walked into Perrywinkle’s, a jewelry store at 227 Main Street in Burlington to get a Rolex watch appraised on Nov. 29, according to a search warrant affidavit.
A men’s gold Rolex watch was among the items reported missing from the temporary storage room at the state police barracks on Vermont 2A, Detective Sgt. Jesse Robson said in his court affidavit.
DiGenova maintains that he bought a Rolex for his son’s 21st birthday and later claimed it was going to be a Christmas present, Robson said. DiGenova also said the watch was unrelated to the matching item reported missing from a holding room at the barracks, police said.
The Rolex that DiGenova presented at Perrywinkle’s was appraised at $14,000 by Winklette Taylor, the store’s vice president, court records show. Taylor said she told DiGenova it would have been worth more if he had the original box and documentation, Robson wrote.
DiGenova has provided multiple conflicting stories about the Rolex, according to the 5-page single-spaced affidavit.
When confronted by investigators on Dec. 19, DiGenova said he has heard about misconduct by other state troopers “and told detectives that if he hears no one else got a knock on their door he was going to be pissed,” Robson wrote.
State police are currently conducting a comprehensive audit of the evidence storage lockers at the Williston barracks, department spokesman Adam Silverman confirmed Thursday.
State police obtained a search warrant for DiGenova’s residence and garage, along with his two private vehicles. Police also seized his private cellphone and his state police issued cellphone, records show.
Multiple attempts have been made to reach DiGenova since last week, but it appears the state police have both his cellphones as evidence.
When suspended from duty, DiGenova’s assigned state property, including his police cruiser, a laptop computer and cellphone were seized.
Capt. Matt Daley, the northern Vermont troop commander, found a business card for Perrywinkle’s in the cruiser, Robson said.
Police said they also were looking during the court-ordered search for small diamond stub earrings, receipts, bills of sale, pawn shop tickets, paperwork associated with the sale, appraisal or pawning of the property.
The property belongs to Cecil Whidbee, 42, of Burlington, who was arrested by the Vermont Drug Task Force and Burlington Police on charges of cocaine trafficking and illegal possession of a firearm on Nov. 22, records show.
Whidbee, who has ties to Brooklyn, N.Y., and his girlfriend were under investigation for drug trafficking, court records show. After they were arrested, police found crack cocaine in small plastic bags in their apartment, along with a firearm, cash, a money counter and digital scales, records show.
Whidbee was lodged at Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans until Dec. 8, records show.
It was a few days before he was released that efforts were made by a friend asking state police to return the property they had for safekeeping for Whidbee, records show.
Other items were Apple Airpods and Airpod case, keys and a wallet, the affidavit said.
When the property was not found immediately, an email was sent to every state trooper that had used their keycard to access the temporary hold room at Williston between the arrest and early December, records show.
Detective Sgt. Ben Katz reported to superiors that DiGenova had showed him a Rolex that he claimed he bought on E-Bay, but ultimately told Katz it was determined to be a fake, Robson said.
Detective Lt. Jason Letourneau and Detective Trooper Jason Danielson went to DiGenova’s home in Essex about 9 p.m. Dec. 19 to speak to him, Robson said. DiGenova opted not to invite his colleagues into his home, but spoke to them outside.
Based on the comments provided by DiGenova and his explanation to Katz, the trooper was suspended and the formal criminal investigation began, Robson said.
The investigation revealed that DiGenova had gained access to the temporary storage room numerous times between Nov. 23 and Dec. 5, including 4 times on Nov. 26, the affidavit said.
During the interview on Dec. 19, DiGenova denied comments made to Katz. He also said he bought the watch for about $800 and then got his money back when he returned it to a guy in Massachusetts, Robson said.
Taylor, from Perrywinkle’s, said she reached out by phone and texts to DiGenova between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 before he responded. She said DiGenova reported he was in Italy for a couple of weeks for a family emergency.
Taylor said she had secured an $8,000 Rolex that DiGenova said he wanted to buy for his son’s 21st birthday. He said he would talk when he got back and if she sold it in the meantime he understood.
Besides the criminal investigation, a complaint has been filed with the Internal Affairs Office within the Vermont State Police. It will get fully underway when the criminal investigation is complete.
DiGenova has served two stints with the state police for a total of about 12 ½ years mostly in Northern Vermont.
Robson, who is often assigned to major criminal cases, is the lead investigator. He works out of the Westminster barracks in Southern Vermont and was picked to avoid any conflict of interest with people who might have worked with DiGenova in Northern Vermont.
DiGenova’s patrol assignments during his career, include the state police offices in Williston, Bradford and Middlesex, along with about a 4-year stint with the Vermont Drug Task Force.
Vermont State Police initially hired DiGenova on July 22, 2009 and he graduated from the Vermont Police Academy as a trooper second class on Dec. 4, 2009. He was assigned the following month to patrol Chittenden and Lamoille counties out of the Williston barracks.
He completed his probationary year and was elevated to trooper first class on July 20, 2010. Three months later he transferred to the Bradford barracks, but resigned in April 2011.
State police rehired him Feb. 26, 2012 at Williston and two years later transferred him into the Vermont Drug Task Force. He was an acting sergeant in the drug unit from Sept. 13, 2017 to June 24, 2018 and was transferred back to uniform at the Middlesex barracks to serve as an acting sergeant from Aug. 18, 2019 to Oct. 27, 2019.
DiGenova transferred back to the Williston barracks on March 29, 2020 and served as an acting patrol sergeant from Nov. 7, 2020 to Jan. 16, 2022. He remained at the barracks until Dec. 19 when he was suspended.