PROVIDENCE — The defense in the case of a suspended Rhode Island police chief accused of stealing $714 from a pocketbook during Tropical Storm Irene sought Tuesday to suggest that a Pawtucket police officer misunderstood an exchange in which North Providence police Colonel John J. Whiting allegedly confessed to the theft.
Pawtucket police Officer John Brown testified that Whiting, 58, admitted to stealing money from a pocketbook he found in a yard after a sport utility vehicle he was chasing crashed into a parked car on a dead-end street in Pawtucket on Aug. 28. Brown said he was called to the scene to investigate a report of Whiting being involved in a foot chase.
Whiting told police he began chasing the Ford Explorer after an occupant threw a bottle at his SUV, Brown said.
Brown testified that while he was looking for the bottle, Whiting gave him the money and told him to spend it in Las Vegas and not say anything about it.
Authorities said the money belonged to Justina Cardoso, 21, a former stripper who testified Monday.
Defense attorney John B. Harwood asked Brown whether he thought Whiting might have been kidding.
He noted that the police chief knew Brown likes to go to Las Vegas and that $714 is not much money to bring there.
‘‘No,’’ Brown said, ‘‘he wasn’t kidding.’’