PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A lawyer for a Providence police officer arrested in a cocaine bust challenged allegations at a bail hearing Friday that his client was involved with his brother in a drug-dealing operation.

Andrew Bucci, representing jailed Patrolman Robert Hamlin, questioned prosecutors’ interpretations of phone calls recorded between Hamlin and his brother Albert. Both Hamlins were arrested last month in a state police drug investigation called Operation Deception, which spanned four months and relied on wiretaps and intercepted phone calls.

Bucci suggested while questioning a state police detective that the word “tiles” — which police say the brothers used on their calls as code for drugs — was actually an innocuous reference to Albert Hamlin’s work in the flooring industry.

State police Detective William Accardi said police found tools to lay flooring at several locations where they carried out search warrants. But he said he had never seen Robert Hamlin helping his brother, though he acknowledged that police did not do round-the-clock surveillance of him.

Bucci also suggested the word “vests” heard on one of their phone calls was a reference to formal wedding attire because Albert Hamlin was about to get married and not to bulletproof vests, as police and prosecutors contend.

Minutes later, a prosecutor showed Accardi surveillance photos taken the day of the phone calls, and Accardi testified the pictures showed Albert Hamlin traveling in his pickup truck with what appeared to be a bulletproof vest.

Prosecutors say Robert Hamlin, a resource officer at a Providence high school, helped his brother evade police by tipping him to the names of narcotics detectives and offering descriptions of their cars.

Hamlin was one of three Providence police officers arrested in the drug probe, which authorities say is continuing. Four civilians, including Albert Hamlin, also face charges.

The officers have all been suspended without pay.

Prosecutors are seeking to present enough evidence at the hearing to convince a judge to keep the officer behind bars.


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