Wired: 1994 Through 1996, A Book by Paul Caranci

Monday, April 03, 2017

 

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Ralph Mollis

Each week, GoLocalProv will publish a chapter of the book Wired: The Shocking True Story of Political Corruption and the FBI Informant Who Risked Everything to Expose It, by Paul Caranci. 

The book details how Caranci gambled his thirty-year political career, his reputation, and his family’s safety in his quest to restore good, honest government to a community that needed it most by going undercover with the FBI for 17 months to exposed corruption. 

Buy the book by CLICKING HERE

1994

THE END OF AN ERA, THE BEGINNING OF ANOTHER

In April of 1994 the town’s first mayor, Sal Mancini, died in office. Council President A. Ralph Mollis, a political ally, assumed the role of acting mayor pending a special election. A month later, Mancini ally and District 1 Councilman Louis Lanni, resigned from office and from his position as the High School Principal, following allegations of inappropriate conduct with a female student during the High School senior class trip. 

In what would become the newest split in the local Democrat Party, Dick Fossa and acting Mayor Mollis each declared their candidacy for mayor in a special primary election to be held in June. A few weeks later, I announced my intention to seek the Town Council seat formerly held by Lanni. I joined a crowded field that included A. Robert (Bob) Cerilli, Steven Pitassi, Ron Iannetta, Anthony Paolino, Joanne Wood and David Aurrillio to compete in a second special primary election slated for July 19th. While the winner of the mayoral contest would serve the two years remaining on Mancini’s unexpired term of office, the winner of the special Council primary in June and the special election in August to complete Lanni’s term would then have to run again in the September primary and November general elections for their own 2-year term of office. Consequently, the campaign essentially lasted for 5 months with 4 elections to win during that time. 

At just about the same time, Joseph Cardello, a councilman from the 3rd District, resigned his seat creating yet another special primary and election for that position. Essentially, within just a few short months North Providence would unexpectedly have a new mayor and two new councilmen. 

 

In a politically motivated move that made little practical sense, the Democrat Town Committee decided to endorse for both the June special primary and the September primary at the same time during its monthly meeting in May. This essentially meant that there was a one in seven chance that the winner of the District 1 special primary and special election might still be running as the unendorsed candidate in the September primary one month later. The vote to endorse Ron Iannetta, the handpicked candidate of Councilman Peter Simone, the other District 1 incumbent, surprised no one. Peter was Sal’s best friend and most loyal Council supporter. Mancini’s influence clearly extended beyond the grave and was still evident among members of the local Democrat Town Committee in their opposition to my candidacy.

I campaigned very hard, walking to every door in my district twice. The first time I walked to meet as many residents as I could and to explain my platform and my reasons for running. The second time was to ask if they had any questions of me now that the campaign was in full swing. I presumed they had a chance to read the plethora of campaign literature and press releases and to evaluate all seven candidates and their positions. Many people were impressed at my tenacity and more seemed to like my positions.

Throughout the campaign I frequently paraphrased the words of President John F. Kennedy who once remarked that the success or failure of an elected official can be determined by his answer to four questions: 

First, was he a man of courage who had the courage to stand up, when necessary, to his associates, as well as his enemies? 

Second, was he a man of judgment with perceptive judgment of the future as well as of the past? 

Third, was he a man of integrity who never ran out on his principals or on those who believed in him? 

And finally, was he a man of dedication devoted solely to the public good and serving the public interest? 

I assured each resident that regardless of how long I remained in office I would always be able to answer yes to those four questions; a pledge that I believe I kept throughout my years of public service.

Just days before the election, Margie surprised me with a gift. Several boxes of pens inscribed with the words “Elect Paul F. Caranci Councilman District 1,” Traditionally all candidates in North Providence have supporters stationed in front of the polls passing out sample ballots, palm cards or some other paper that no one wants. “Everyone will want a pen!” she told me. She was right. As voters passed the gauntlet of campaign supporters outside the polling places, observers could hear them say, I don’t want that. I don’t want that. Oh, I’ll take a pen. The pens were received so well that their use by voters inside the polling place to mark their ballots resulted in an attempt by the opposition to prevent me from passing them out, an attempt which failed.

I emerged the winner of the hard fought campaign. The slim 23-vote margin of victory on election night (which increased to 35 after the mail ballots were counted) was of little concern when compared to the joy of winning my first election. For at least a few short months, I would experience my dream of being on the Town Council. 

My first successful election took place on July 19th, my father’s seventy-second birthday. Oddly enough, I would be sworn into office on Sunday August 28th, my mother’s seventieth birthday. In an intimate ceremony with family and very close friends and supporters, Town Clerk Pauline Andre administered the oath of office. Pressing my hand on the family Bible held by Margie, I promised to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Rhode Island, the laws of the state of Rhode Island and the Charter of the Town of North Providence. I looked forward to bringing a new brand of government service to the town and eagerly awaited my first Council meeting in September. The excitement was tempered, however, with the reality that I would face another set of elections beginning in less than three weeks. 

The second set of campaigns narrowed the field of candidates from seven to four. Former opponent Bob Cerilli became one of my most ardent supporters and a campaign co-coordinator. Although 20 years my elder, he remains a very close friend to this day. The September 14th Democrat primary, though still running unendorsed despite my initial victory, was not as close as the July Primary election as I bested the field of four by 100 votes. In November’s special election I out-polled my running mate, Peter Simone, by over 150 votes and was feeling pretty good about my first full 2-year term on the Council. While I know Peter was not supportive of me politically and more than likely did not appreciate me personally, I tried to work with him as a colleague. After all, I couldn’t blame him for not liking me. I ran against him twice and was a thorn in the side of his best friend and mentor, Sal Mancini. But, I believed that was behind us and I hoped that we could move forward with a different attitude, hoping that someday Peter would accept me.

Why Don’t You Make the Call

While my political career was just starting to improve, my professional career was at a crossroads. Austin Ferland had been appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the R.I. Solid Waste Management Corporation. Ferland was a much-admired and respected real estate entrepreneur who earned millions of dollars throughout his career. He was also a political player frequently hosting fundraisers for rival Democrats and Republicans alike. Now in a position of authority at RISWMC, Ferland was negotiating several RISWMC real estate deals. One such deal involved the purchase of several acres of land from Louis Vinagro, a pig farmer and recycling facility operator whose land abutted that of the Corporation. The subject land contained two pre-fabricated metal buildings and was useful to the Corporation both from the point of view of being a source of good gravel that was used to cover the daily intake of solid waste, and for much-needed eventual landfill expansion to the south and east. The appraisal that the Corporation had ordered on the property, however, was about $125,000 less than the negotiated offer price between Vinagro and Ferland. That was a problem to Ferland as it constituted a possible deal breaker. 

At the time, I was in charge of the Corporation’s real estate division so Ferland instructed me to call the appraiser and tell him to review his appraisal with an eye toward increasing the value because of the existence of metal, pre-fabricated buildings contained on the lots. My mind flooded with thoughts as I explained my discomfort level with making such a call. I wondered to myself if such a request was legal or if I was being set up. But Ferland assured me that this kind of thing is done all the time. I asked, “Have you ever done it?” “Yes,” he said. “Have you ever done it with this appraisal firm?” “Yes,” he again answered. To which I responded, “Well then, as long as you have a good relationship with them wouldn’t it be better if you make that call?” As soon as the words left my lips I wished I could get them back. But, I was so upset that I was being asked to “request an alteration” to a written and submitted appraisal that I didn’t think before I spoke. I can clearly remember Ferland’s face turning flush with what I perceived to be a combination of embarrassment and anger as he whispered to me, “That’s OK, I’ll take care of it. And I’ll remember this.”

I realized that after almost 17 years of employment, my days at the RISWMC were numbered and it was clear from that point on that the Corporation’s hierarchy wanted to replace me. I thought back to a conversation that Frank Anzeveno and I had with Jim Langevin and his Chief of Staff, John Tabella, just after Langevin took office as Rhode Island's Secretary of State in 1993. Tabella asked then if I might be interested in helping them organize a business information center modeled after a program operated by Georgia Secretary of State Max Clelland. The position paid only $45,000 however, and, in addition to loving my current job, I didn’t want to take a $20,000 pay cut. Considering the new turn of events, the offer seemed a little more attractive. Negotiations with Tabella increased the salary to $55,000. In August of 1995 I accepted the job and In September I began a new career as the Director of the Secretary of State’s First Stop Business Information Center. 

 

1995

INAUGURATION DAY

The 1995 inauguration of North Providence elected officials was held on the eighth day of January. I could hardly contain my excitement as we paraded into the High School auditorium to the applause of hundreds of well-wishers who packed all of the hall’s 700 seats. This inauguration represented a new political beginning for the Town of North Providence, a new era unencumbered by the influence of Sal Mancini. With Dick Fossa serving as mayor, Charlie Lombardi leading the Town Council, and Eileen Cook, Pete Simone and Bob Ricci all Council allies, our team was in political control. Ralph Mollis and John Sisto represented the only political opposition. To the casual observer, and to political novices like myself, it all seemed too perfect. The reality would prove to be far different than the perception. 

Let’s Appoint Qualified People

The North Providence Town Council as a body politic does not control many jobs. Most government appointments to paid positions are essentially the responsibility of the mayor, the town’s chief administrator. In fact, aside from the position of town clerk and a couple of minor part-time positions the only appointments the Council enjoys are to the several positions on boards and commissions existing within the framework of the Town charter. Those appointees are paid only a stipend, which in 1995 was $25 per meeting with a $300 per year cap. Despite the lack of financial incentive there was never a shortage of people who clamored for the positions. 

 

Through my prior involvement with Council appointments I knew that the criteria for appointment were not knowledge-based but rather friendship-centered with friends of the appointing authority receiving the spoils. Generally, appointees were selected from the mental list of campaign supporters of the successful Council members. I knew this because I was a beneficiary of such magnanimity some years earlier when I was first appointed to the Zoning Board of Review. While I had some previous knowledge of zoning matters, even my tenure on the Board involved a great deal of on-the-job training. 

I also realized that some of the more important boards and commissions, such as the zoning and planning boards, rendered decisions that would have a lasting impact on the quality of life in many neighborhoods and villages throughout the town. Appointment to these positions was far too important to entrust to someone with no pre-existing knowledge of the subject matter. Certainly, I thought, there should be a degree of understanding that the appointee possesses, and that should be supplemented with a continuing education requirement. As a councilman charged with the authority to appoint these positions, I felt encumbered to do something to encourage this change.

At the first meeting of the New Year I introduced a proposal to the Council suggesting that the basis of future appointments include these criteria. The proposal was met with disdain, ridicule and laughter. “Who are you to suggest that someone might not be qualified to serve on one of these boards,” Councilman John Sisto said. I thought his attitude was rather demeaning, and was surprised to see it supported by all the other members of the Council. I also thought it was short-sighted on Sisto’s part since my political team had the votes to appoint anyone we wanted to appoint, and those appointments certainly would not include anyone proposed by him. His only chance at successfully recommending someone would be to agree with me. Could he not see that? 

In any case, realizing that my proposal had no chance of passage, I simply supported the names of those put forward by our team of Councilmen. In the process, I made what was perhaps my second biggest mistake as a fledgling politician. I voted against the reappointment of Joseph Marciano to the Zoning Board. Joe was an affable man and had a law degree. He is fair, compassionate, big-hearted, honest and possesses a clear understanding of zoning issues. He was also a long-time political operative who sided with his good friend Ralph Mollis in opposing our ticket in the mayor and Council races. Fossa and Lombardi wanted him removed simply because of his political loyalties and I didn’t object. Worst, I quietly went along with their choices after having already established the need for the appointment of qualified people. As a result, the Zoning Board lost one of its best and hardest-working members. I have since maintained that my vote to replace Marciano was one of the most regrettable decisions I made as a councilman. 

Each of the other appointments followed in much the same manner and before the night was over, all the Mollis supporters who were up for reappointment had been unceremoniously replaced. 

God’s Intervention

Most government bodies begin each session with a prayer. The United States Congress, the R.I. State Legislature and many other official governmental bodies and organizations honor such a custom. 

 

The North Providence Town Council did not. I believe that our government is deeply-rooted in Judeo-Christian teachings. Our founding fathers established that precedent in the Continental Congress and continued it following the colonist’s success in the American Revolution. During the much-heated debates that took place in the Continental Congress when attempting to draft and ratify the new nation’s first and enduring constitution the delegates argued vociferously about the strength of national vs. states’ rights. As the Convention threatened to dissolve into chaos, Benjamin Franklin rose to make a speech that would change the course of the convention. He said in part, “If a sparrow’s falling to the ground can’t escape God’s notice, how can we hope to build a nation without his intervention.” With that he called for a recess to allow the delegates time to pray, fast and contemplate the significance of what they were doing. The Convention delegates obliged and a few days later they reconvened, worked out their differences and drafted our Constitution. 

Dismayed that government had evolved 180 degrees and now prohibits even the mention of God in public schools, I hoped to establish the need for a reliance on God’s intervention in the conduct of local government business. To that end I moved to amend the Council rules to require that each meeting begin with a prayer. Sensitive to the varying faiths, the motion was for the recitation of a non-denominational prayer. The motion carried unanimously ensuring that each meeting for at least the next two years would start with the customary Pledge of Allegiance which would now be followed by a prayer. 

I suggested that the prayer be recited by a different Council member each month, but the reluctance of the other members to do so meant that that obligation fell to me and I became the unofficial Council chaplain. By the degree of reluctance demonstrated by the other members, one might think I asked that the meetings begin with a reading of the Communist Manifesto! 

The town clerk, clearly not understanding my motion, rewrote the Council rules to read that the Council would begin each session with “a non-denomination of prayer.” After a few months, David Snyder, a gadfly whose antics livened up many Council meetings, threatened to “call the ACLU if I recited one more prayer.” I didn’t relent, and the ACLU never got involved. For those next two years I recited a prayer at the start of every Council meeting. Once a new Council president took office two years later, however, the “prayer” was reduced to a “moment of silence” and remains that way today. But, at least the councilmembers still have a formal opportunity to ask for Divine guidance, albeit silently, in their Council deliberations.

Making Health Care Portable

With John F. Kennedy’s admonition, one that I quoted so frequently during the campaign, still very fresh on my mind, I promised myself to promote a different piece of legislation each year that would make a significant and positive impact on society. My hallmark legislation for this first year however would not be pursued from the town Council bench but rather through the General Assembly. For that legislation I worked with my good friend Frank Anzeveno, who by 1995 had risen to the position of Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

As mentioned earlier, in 1989 my son Matthew was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes which required daily insulin injections and a ritual of home blood-glucose monitoring procedures. My health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of R.I. (BCBS), had just instituted a new program called Healthmate that required a co-pay of only ten-dollars for doctor’s office visits. By contrast, the BCBS program in which I was enrolled at the time was Major Medical which required full payment at the time of service with an 80% reimbursement for qualified procedures following the submission of a voucher or claim for reimbursement. Clearly, with the number of doctor office visits and hospital stays that my son required, Healthmate was a better option for my family. 

 Each year my employer arranged an opportunity to meet with the representative from Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The BCBS rep would visit our office during the open enrollment period allowing employees to make any changes desired to their current plans. During my individual meeting with the representative I explained the reason for my plan-change request. He, in turn, explained that although Blue Cross/Blue Shield of R.I. provided both the Major Medical and the Healthmate plans, they were different and distinct plans. Any change from my current plan would trigger the company’s “pre-existing condition clause” meaning that treatment of my son’s diabetes would not be covered by the “new” policy for a period of 1 year. I debated the merit of imposing the pre-existing condition clause when I was maintaining coverage with the same company and simply changing the type of policy. He agreed, but insisted that it was the law. I explained how I  would need to change that law. He had a hearty laugh at my expense and said “good luck with that” as I was leaving the room. 

I called Frank Anzeveno and explained the dilemma. Frank was appalled at the temerity of the heath insurer, agreed with the insanity of the policy, and promised to introduce legislation that would rectify the situation if I could help draft it.

The legislation was introduced in March and Frank told me he would call me when it was time to testify. Meanwhile, I lined up several Endocrinologists and other experts to provide testimony before the House Corporations Committee during the hearing process. One night as I sat in my home office Frank called to let me know the bill was being heard the next day at 4:00 p.m. Knowing I couldn’t get my experts to attend on such short notice, I asked for an extension. When informed that an extension wasn’t an option, I asked my 11 year old son Matthew if he might be willing to come with me to the State House the next day after school and tell some people what it is like living with diabetes. He agreed. 

Matthew was the center of attention in the legislative hearing. At just 11 years old, he bravely presented the case for passage before both the House and Senate Corporations Committees. The testimony of an impacted child is usually heart-wrenching and Matt’s presentation was no different. Some legislators were moved to tears listening to this small boy tell about the hardships of living with diabetes. Despite the objections of some very high-powered lobbyists that represented the various health insurers doing business in Rhode Island, the bill passed the committee unanimously. With Anzeveno’s stewardship, the bill was ushered through the House and Senate despite an eleventh-hour snag that threatened to kill the legislation during the waning days of the General Assembly session. Governor Lincoln Almond signed the legislation into law a few days later.

On May 6, 1996 the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities presented both Matthew and me with the 1996 Joseph Vanni Award. The award is given annually to citizens whose actions lead to enactment of laws that improve the quality of life of Rhode Islanders with disabilities. At the ceremony I said, 

“…The most courageous acts may be those of my son, who not only must endure the hardship of diabetes, but must take to the legislative battleground to help improve the quality of life for all people living with disabilities. No longer will families and victims of disease be held hostage to a job for fear of losing health coverage.” 

1996

HISTORIC DISTRICT ZONING

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The new year brought with it new challenges to promote that quality-of-life legislation that I longed to influence each year. My sights in 1996 were set on historic preservation and business enhancement.

Development of the historic preservation legislation required collaboration with Beverly Burgess, a Realtor and President of the North Providence Preservation Commission. Together we developed an ordinance creating historic districts within the town. 

North Providence was incorporated as a town in 1765 after being settled by Thomas Angell, one of the original loyalists that accompanied Roger Williams to Providence in 1636. It has a rich history and culture that is worthy of preservation. The new proposal created the Historic District Commission with the purpose of preserving the historical qualities and aesthetics of properties located within the enumerated districts. The Commission was charged with the responsibility of reviewing all matters relating to construction and landscaping and to offer advice to homeowners on how to maintain the historic character of their home. 

The work turned out to be controversial because some residents saw this as another unnecessary government intrusion in their lives. I saw it as an opportunity to educate homeowners before they made a decision to permanently alter and perhaps destroy a building that held special significance for the town. 

When the Ordinance passed, North Providence became the sixteenth of the thirty-nine municipalities in Rhode Island to create special districts within the town so that the historical significance of those areas will be permanently preserved for all future generations to enjoy.

The Home-Based Business Ordinance

The second piece of significant legislation that I drafted and passed in town in 1996 was a home-based business ordinance that allows for the conduct of certain business from home provided the business activity did not adversely impact or intrude on the quality of life of those living in the neighborhood. Under the proposal, a resident could forgo the lengthy and expensive ritual of petitioning the zoning board for permission to conduct a business in a residential zone, a petition that not only carries a high price-tag, but has an uncertain outcome. Rather, my proposal allowed residents to conduct certain types of business from their home for a payment of a $25.00 fee and completion of a simple application. 

At a time when so many in our state faced an uncertain economy that included downsizing by many private companies, working from home had become a popular choice. I argued that passage of the Home-Based Business Ordinance would stimulate the economy, save residents money in zoning application fees, remove the uncertainty of zoning board approval, and protect the neighbors from unwanted intrusions on their quality of life. It would also provide a small revenue base for the town and an opportunity to monitor home-based businesses for compliance. Like the health care initiative, this Act provided another win-win legislative opportunity.

Expanded Coverage for People with Diabetes

On a broader level, I became aware of another shortcoming in the health insurance coverage laws that needed legislative reform from the General Assembly. In response I collaborated once again with Frank Anzeveno to draft and lobby for legislation that provided the expansion of health coverage to include the supplies, equipment and education necessary for the proper home management of diabetes. This bill expanded health insurance policies to include coverage to those items essential for the proper and adequate home management of diabetes. Prior to this bill passing, some policies excluded coverage for insulin, blood-glucose monitors, blood test strips and other essential items required for diabetes sufferers to monitor and control their diabetes on a day-to-day basis. I explained to the Corporations Committees of both the House and Senate that health insurance companies would happily pay the astronomical expenses needed to cover the cost of limb amputation, stroke, heart attack, kidney dialysis and other complications resulting from the disease if not adequately controlled, but balk at paying the comparatively minor cost of preventing these catastrophic events. The health care company lobbyists were hard-pressed to disagree with that logic. This health care bill did not create the same sensation as the first one did and I was able to work with the insurance companies to develop language that was acceptable to all parties. As before, Anzeveno followed this bill through the entire legislative process and it too was signed into law. 

Republican Governor Lincoln Almond signed the bill during a ceremony at which the law was described as “landmark legislation that now adds R.I. to the list of just seven other states in America to provide such preventative care to people with diabetes.” Speaking at the bill-signing event, I noted that, “the treatment of complications of diabetes is far more costly than the preventative measures this bill provides.” The bill was hailed by the American Diabetes Association and provided much-needed financial relief for the 85,000 Rhode Island residents who suffer from the disease. 

Sometime later, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, promoted similar health initiatives at the federal level arguing the same logic that I had used to promote the Rhode Island initiative accentuating the significance of what had been accomplished locally. 

Throughout the painstaking process of legislative reform for the two health care initiatives, Frank Anzeveno remained in the shadows of public praise. He worked tirelessly to ensure passage, but in typical fashion, wanted no part of any accolades. Yet, the simple truth is that virtually every person in Rhode Island has benefited from the passage of these bills. Such is not often the case. Sometimes when legislation becomes law, there are unintended consequences that produce negative impacts. Here, there are no losers, only winners. These achievements earned an advocacy award from the American Diabetes Association but would never have been possible without Frank’s efforts and would not have overcome the objections of lobbyists for powerful Rhode Island corporations had Frank not had the type of personality that allowed him to rise in the ranks of the House leadership into a position of influence. The right combination of events needed to align to ensure this type of reform. More than anyone one else, Frank Anzeveno is responsible for the passage of these reform bills that made Rhode Island the only state in the country at the time to have both of these critical laws on the books.

Mollis Defeats Fossa

The end of the year brought a major shift in political power. While I won re-election handily, Mayor Fossa lost the rematch with his rival, A. Ralph Mollis. Frank Anzeveno, Doc and I supported the re-election of Dick Fossa, but had always remained friendly with and maintained our respect for Mollis. Though we supported the candidate that we had known longer, we maintained a mutual respect for Mollis’s ability and integrity. More significantly, we did not harbor against Ralph the vitriol and hatred that was so evidently characteristic of the Mancini-Fossa years. For our part, we would have no trouble working with the new Mollis administration toward the betterment of North Providence. We soon learned that Mollis and many of his supporters felt the same way.

 

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Paul F. Caranci is a historian and serves on the board of directors for the RI Heritage Hall of Fame. He is a cofounder of, and consultant to The Municipal Heritage Group and the author of five published books including two produced by The History Press. North Providence: A History & The People Who Shaped It (2012) and The Hanging & Redemption of John Gordon: The True Story of Rhode Island’s Last Execution (2013) that was selected by The Providence Journal as one of the top five non-fiction books of 2013. Paul served for eight years as Rhode Island’s Deputy Secretary of State and for almost seventeen years as a councilman in his hometown of North Providence. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Margie. They have two adult children, Heather and Matthew, and four grandsons, Matthew Jr., Jacob, Vincent and Casey.
 

 

Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s History of Political Corruption

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Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci resigned as Providence Mayor in 1984 after pleading nolo contendere to charges of assaulting a Bristol man with a lit cigarette, ashtray, and fireplace log. Cianci believed the man to be involved in an affair with his wife. 

Cianci did not serve time in prison, but received a 5-year suspended sentence. He was replaced by Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. in a special election. 

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Joseph Bevilacqua

Joseph Bevilacqua was RI Speaker of the House from 1969 to 1975, and was appointed as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court in 1976.  It was alleged that Bevilacqua had connections to organized crime throughout his political career.  

According to a 1989 article that appeared in The New York Times at the time of his death:

The series of events that finally brought Mr. Bevilacqua down began at the end of 1984... stating that reporters and state police officers had observed Mr. Bevilacqua repeatedly visiting the homes of underworld figures.

The state police alleged that Mr. Bevilacqua had also visited a Smithfield motel, owned by men linked to gambling and drugs...

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Thomas Fay

Thomas Fay, the successor to Bevilacqua as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, resigned in 1993, and was later found guilty on three misdemeanor counts of directing arbitration work to a partner in his real estate firm, Lincoln Center Properties.  

Fay was also alleged to use court employees, offices, and other resources for the purposes of the real estate firm.  Fay, along with court administrator and former Speaker of the House, Matthew "Mattie" Smith were alleged to have used court secretaries to conduct business for Lincoln, for which Fay and Smith were business partners. 

Fay was fined $3,000 and placed on one year probation. He could have been sentenced for up to three years in prison. 

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Brian J. Sarault

Former Pawtucket Mayor Brian J. Sarault was sentenced in 1992 to more than 5 years in prison, after pleading guilty to a charge of racketeering.  

Sarault was arrested by state police and FBI agents at Pawtucket City Hall in 1991, who alleged that the mayor had attempted to extort $3,000 from former RI State Rep. Robert Weygand as a kickback from awarding city contracts.

Weygand, after alerting federal authorities to the extortion attempt, wore a concealed recording device to a meeting where he delivered $1,750 to Sarault.

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Edward DiPrete

Edward DiPrete became the first Rhode Island Governor to be serve time in prison after pleading guilty in 1998 to multiple charges of corruption.

He admitted to accepting bribes and extorting money from contractors, and accepted a plea bargain which included a one-year prison sentence.

DiPrete served as Governor from 1985-1991, losing his 1990 re-election campaign to Bruce Sundlun.

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Plunder Dome

Cianci was forced to resign from the Mayor’s office a second time in 2002 after being convicted on one several charges levied against him in the scandal popularly known as “Operation Plunder Dome.” 

The one guilty charge—racketeering conspiracy--led to a five-year sentence in federal prison. Cianci was acquitted on all other charges, which included bribery, extortion, and mail fraud.

While it was alleged that City Hall had been soliciting bribes since Cianci’s 1991 return to office, much of the case revolved around a video showing a Cianci aide, Frank Corrente, accepting a $1,000 bribe from businessman Antonio Freitas. Freitas had also recorded more than 100 conversations with city officials.

Operation Plunder Dome began in 1998, and became public when the FBI executed a search warrant of City Hall in April 1999. 

Cianci Aide Frank Corrente, Tax Board Chairman Joseph Pannone, Tax Board Vice Chairman David C. Ead, Deputy tax assessor Rosemary Glancy were among the nine individuals convicted in the scandal. 

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N. Providence Councilmen

Three North Providence City Councilmen were convicted in 2011 on charges relating to a scheme to extort bribes in exchange for favorable council votes. In all, the councilmen sought more than $100,000 in bribes.

Councilmen Raimond A. Zambarano, Joseph Burchfield, and Raymond L. Douglas III were sentenced to prison terms of 71 months, 64 months, and 78 months, respectively. 

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Charles Moreau

Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau resigned in 2012 before pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. 

Moreau admitted that he had give contractor Michael Bouthillette a no-bid contract to board up vacant homes in exchange for having a boiler installed in his home. 

He was freed from prison in February 2014, less than one year into a 24 month prison term, after his original sentence was vacated in exchange for a guilty plea on a bribery charge.  He was credited with tim served, placed on three years probation, and given 300 hours of community service.

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Joe Almeida

State Representative Joseph S. Almeida was arrested and charged on February 10, 2015 for allegedly misappropriating $6,122.03 in campaign contributions for his personal use. Following his arrest, he resigned his position as House Democratic Whip, but remains a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly.

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Gordon Fox

The Rhode Island State Police and FBI raided and sealed off the State House office of Speaker of the House Gordon Fox on March 21--marking the first time an office in the building has ever been raided. 

Fox pled guilty to 3 criminal counts on March 3, 2015 - accepting a bribe, wire fraud, and filing a false tax return. The plea deal reached with the US Attorney's office calls for 3 years in federal prison, but Fox will be officially sentenced on June 11.

 
 

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