Wired: 2011 Part 4, A Book by Paul Caranci

Monday, July 17, 2017


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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

Maria Vallee Faces Justice

Just a few months after Ciresi’s appeal was rejected by the nation’s highest court, Maria Vallee finally reached an accord with federal prosecutors for her role in the years old HUD loan scandal. She had already “removed herself from the finance director position in June of 2011, hours before the Rhode Island Ethics Commission found probable cause for numerous alleged ethical and statutory violations, subsequently taking the controller position.” According to the terms of a consent judgment released by the U.S. Attorney, Vallee agreed to “pay $78,292.50 in damages after having reimbursed nearly $48,000 of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies she received in the form of loans from the town of North Providence which she was not qualified to receive. Throughout the filing the parties agreed that the claims Vallee made to an agent of the United States “were made with deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information contained therein, in that the Defendant was not eligible to receive funds because of her and her husband’s income and due to the nature of the construction work she was having done on her home.”

The civil complaint, filed by U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha on the same date, outlined the facts of the case to which Vallee accepted responsibility. Among other civil charges, the government essentially concluded that, in applying for the loan, “Maria Vallee acted in deliberate ignorance concerning whether her and her husband’s combined income made the Vallees ineligible to receive the CDBG loan,” and that at the time Vallee submitted requests for five contractor payments, she acted “in deliberate ignorance concerning whether she and her husband were eligible to receive CDBG loan funds…and whether the repairs for which they sought payment were necessary to make their home sanitary, decent and safe,” All of these things, the filings note, are requirements of the funding eligibility.

With resolution of the federal charges, the R.I. Ethics Commission scheduled a hearing for July 23, 2013, its eighth meeting of the year, at which time the Commission approved “an informal resolution & Settlement in the matter of Maria Vallee, Complaint No. 2010-9. The respondent, the then Acting Finance Director for the Town of North Providence, admitted to improperly receiving a loan from the Town, through a federal program, in violation of R.I. General Laws 36-14-5(a) and 36-14-6.” The Commission imposed a penalty of $8,000 on Vallee. Commission attorney Jason Gramitt told the North Providence Breeze that “Vallee agreed to the fine and acknowledged that she violated state laws.” The fine represents what “most people would consider a serious penalty decided based on the totality of the circumstances including the willfulness of Vallee’s conduct and the size of the civil penalty paid in her federal case.”

Mayor Charles Lombardi, meanwhile, who a week earlier had told the North Providence Breeze “that he would decide on the controller’s fate after the ethics ruling,” was now steadfastly supporting her saying “controller Maria Vallee has been a ‘stellar’ employee” who has ‘suffered enough.’”

Lombardi, however, refused to accept responsibility for his failure to discharge Vallee, instead blaming state and federal officials for their decision. “If federal officials had treated Vallee and her unlawful loans as a criminal matter, instead of a civil one, ‘it would have made my job easier. State officials can also be blamed for setting a precedent on ethics decisions with the appointment of former Sen. President Joseph Montalbano to a Superior Court judgeship after he was fined for an ethics violation,” Lombardi said.

Lombardi’s decision and explanation were roundly criticized throughout the town. North Providence Breeze publisher Tom Ward wrote in his weekly opinion piece, “Maria Vallee, the town’s former finance director and current controller, should leave her job at town hall immediately…In my view, she has forfeited her right to public service. There are many others waiting to do her job and do it with honor.” Breeze contributor and former attorney general Arlene Violet wrote of Lombardi’s decision to keep Vallee, “You’ve got to be kidding me, mayor! You are an enabler! When people steal from these programs it isn’t a one-time decision. There are multiple steps where they have to decide to proceed with the lies and do so.” Ward’s and Violet’s statements certainly seemed to sum up the sentiments of many residents of North Providence, many of whom wrote letters to the editor and/or posted comments to the Breeze on-line column.

Brian Quirk, the citizen who initiated the original ethics complaint against Vallee and others, was particularly outraged that a woman who acknowledged breaking the state’s ethics laws in the performance of her duties would remain on the job. He appealed to the town’s Personnel Board claiming that Lombardi was ignoring the town charter which, Quirk believed, required Vallee’s dismissal from town employment. Quirk explained that the issue was less about getting Vallee fired as it was about finding out why she hadn’t been fired.

The Personnel Board eventually decided to hear the case on Tuesday September 10, 2013 with Vallee exercising her right to a closed-door meeting with the Board. In addition to Vallee’s admission that she violated state law, Quirk alleged that she violated several sections of the town charter, most notably, section 24-1-5 entitled contractual relations which prohibits an employee from contracting with the town and receiving a commission, discount, bonus, gift, contribution or award. The Charter states that in cases of employee violations of the Charter, “the appointing authority shall remove the violator from the position and recommend to the town solicitor to take appropriate legal action.” It goes on to say that “in the event the appointing authority fails to remove the employee, a town resident may petition to have them removed. The town council shall direct the town solicitor to take whatever action is necessary to recover any loss or damages suffered by the town.” Lombardi responded that while he questions Quirk’s motives, he will let the complaint “run its course.”

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Public Employees’ Local Union 1033 came to Vallee’s defense informing Personnel Board Chairman Michael Grossi in a six-page letter dated September 6, 2013, that under provisions of the Union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Town of North Providence the Board has no authority to conduct such a hearing. Vallee’s attorney, Anthony M. Traini, issued his own seven-page letter to the Chairman outlining the Board’s lack of authority to conduct such a hearing. The Board acknowledged both letters but rejected their directives, deciding instead to proceed with the meeting.

Following a very short discussion of the Vallee case the Board determined that Quirk’s petition is “time barred” because “a three-year statute of limitations that began tolling on the day that Vallee committed the illegal acts to gain a loan she wasn’t entitled to had expired.” Quirk responded that the Board’s decision “might have been a sound one if his petition was for action against Vallee for the crime itself, but his petition was against Lombardi for failing to take action by firing Vallee once he was made aware of her violation of the Charter. ‘In the case of my petition, the statute of limitations couldn’t begin tolling until Lombardi was certain that a violation of the Charter occurred,’”

Additionally, Quirk questioned why a Board, acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, wouldn’t have legal counsel present to guide it. Vallee’s attorneys were present, as was Town Solicitor Anthony Gallone who represents the mayor. The attorney for Boards and Commissions however, was not present at the meeting raising the question; Who drafted the 12-page Decision and Recommendation that the Board issued following the hearing and recommending that Maria Vallee not be removed from her position?

Oddly enough, the Maria Vallee saga didn’t end here. In the fall of 2013 Mayor Lombardi had hired Justin Cambio to serve as the town’s new finance director. After serving just over two years, Cambio was arrested by R.I. State Police for post betting at the Twin River Casino located in Lincoln, R.I. Post betting is a form of cheating whereby a gambler adds to his earnings by placing more chips on a winning bet prior to being paid by the dealer. Despite surveillance tape evidence at Twin River showing that Cambio’s cheating was, according to State Police Major Joe Philbun, “very obvious,” Lombardi again refused to immediately fire the Finance Director. Instead, the Mayor placed Cambio on administrative leave allowing the embattled finance director to collect on his vacation and personal time.

In a stunning move, Lombardi once again elevated Controller Maria Vallee to the position of Acting Finance Director, the same role in which she served when she admitted acting improperly and breaking state law. Essentially, Lombardi replaced a person who was alleged to have been cheating in a casino on his own personal time and using his own personal money, with a person who admitted to violations of federal guidelines and state law by inappropriately taking government money to which she was not entitled, while on the job and acting in her official capacity.

Lombardi’s Chief of Staff, G. Richard Fossa, told NBC 10 News in response to their inquiry that the Administration stands by the decision to elevate Vallee to the top finance position. According to the News station, Fossa said Vallee “may have been ill advised or made a mistake, but she was never delinquent on that loan, as soon as they inquired about it, she settled,” When asked by the reporter “if the people of North Providence could trust Vallee with their money,” Fossa replied, “I would back her 100 percent.” Aside from the lack of veracity (Vallee was actually 8 months delinquent in her payments and began to make back payments only after the Finance Committee’s investigation had started) Fossa seemingly missed the whole point as the Lombardi administration placed the person they refused to fire in charge of the town’s finances once again. I guess some lessons are just too hard for some people to learn!

The charges against Justin Cambio were eventually thrown out and his record was expunged. Regardless, on December 7, 2016, in another stunning display of inconsistency, Lombardi announced that he would not be hiring Cambio back. Lombardi “simply couldn’t overlook the circumstances surrounding Cambio’s arrest at Twin River last November. ‘The fact that he was frequenting a gambling casino is not the right thing to be doing when you’re the finance director,’ he said. ‘I have a problem with that.’” Apparently, taking a loan that you are not entitled to, in a process that you oversee, pleading guilty to federal charges and violating the ethics laws of the State of Rhode Island are acceptable behavior for a finance director and can be overlooked by the mayor.

Chief Whiting and Justice Delayed

As most Rhode Islander’s focused their attention on the looming approach of Hurricane Irene, Justina Cardoso had just completed her shift as a dancer at the Satin Doll strip club in downtown Providence. The attractive 21-year-old woman with long flowing brown hair and a sexy slender frame, tucked her Friday evening’s earnings of two hundred dollars into her purse and exited the club. Saturday would be a better day she thought. On that night, the 27th in the month of August, 2011, Justina would be working her “second” job as an escort, one that paid considerably more money. She met her client at the pre-arranged rendezvous, the Comfort Inn in Pawtucket. Once there, she climbed into bed with her client and the two engaged in consensual sex. Later that night her “date” paid her “a gift” of $600 and left the hotel. Justina, however, decided to take advantage of the modest trappings and quiet surroundings of the paid hotel room and spent the night.

Sunday morning, August 28, 2011, Justina checked out of her room at the Comfort Inn, but not before taking some painkillers and consuming a bit of vodka. She gathered her belongings, placed them into her 1999 green Ford Explorer and headed for her Weeden Street home in the City of Pawtucket. It was about 10:30 and the gale force wind gusts of Irene began to increase and become fairly steady. The heavy rain buffeted her windshield and Justina, struggled to see as she maneuvered her vehicle west along Mineral Spring Avenue in Pawtucket. She spotted two men trying to walk against the substantial winds and soaking rain and thought she recognized one of them as her long-time acquaintance Kevin. She pulled the Explorer to the curb and offered the pair a ride. They eagerly accepted and Justina, now feeling the effects of her breakfast of narcotics and alcohol, asked Kevin to take the wheel of her SUV as she slid over to the passenger seat. Both Kevin and his friend got in. As Kevin carefully pulled away from the curb he was essentially unaware of the black Chevy SUV that was travelling down Mineral Spring Avenue behind him.

North Providence Police Chief John J. Whiting left his home in North Attleboro to take the long, slow drive to his office at the North Providence Police Station. He doesn’t usually work on Sunday, but the threat of storm damage from Hurricane Irene’s winds and rain forced many of the Town’s emergency management personnel to work that day. The heavy winds had already begun tearing tree branches and limbs from their trunks and foliage debris littered the streets.

Kevin noticed a fallen tree strewn across part of the road ahead of him in the vicinity of 107 Mineral Spring Avenue and slowly swerved the vehicle toward the center stripe of the road. An impatient driver in the car behind him apparently didn’t feel that Kevin was travelling fast enough and began to pass him on the left. As the two SUVs pulled even with each other a clearly annoyed Kevin waved his arm and yelled, “What the fuck,” at the driver who just happened to be the North Providence Chief of Police.

Chief Whiting’s town issued SUV is unmarked and Kevin had no way of knowing that his day was about to get worse. As Kevin finished his impromptu tirade, Whiting switched on the siren and dashboard mounted red and blue strobe police lights. Justina did not recognize the man driving the SUV and wasn’t sure if he was a cop or a security guard. A sick feeling engulfed Kevin and he pulled his car over to the curb. Then, in an instant, he began thinking about the outstanding warrant he had. Kevin pulled away from the curb and began to speed away. A bewildered Justina looked nervously at Kevin as Chief Whiting instinctively followed in pursuit. A high-speed chase ensued along the debris strewn, two-lane stretch of road. At times they raced along the narrow and winding 30 mph roadway at a dangerous speed twice that limit. The two SUVs weaved in and out of traffic and Whiting tried using his police radio to call North Providence Police Dispatch but found that the radio was not working at the time.

The chase continued west down Mineral Spring Avenue for about a quarter mile. Kevin made a sharp right turn onto Lonsdale Avenue and the chase continued for another half mile. For some reason Kevin decided to turn left onto Paisley Street in Pawtucket. Unfortunately for the fleeing trio, Paisley Street is a dead end. When he reached the end of the road Kevin turned the SUV left into a driveway at 24 Paisley Street crashing head-on into a 2001 white Ford that was parked in the driveway. Kevin quickly jumped out of the Explorer, leaving the door open as he fled into the woods toward Galego Court, a public housing project on 483 Weeden Street in Pawtucket. Justina, realizing that she too had outstanding warrants, also decided to flee the vehicle leaving behind her footwear, and her personal belongings, which included two pairs of silver earrings, a silver necklace, clothing, lingerie and her cell phone. She also left on the floor of the front passenger side of her vehicle a Coach handbag and matching Coach wallet containing the $714 that remained from her weekend labor. As she ran toward the woods she could hear her assailant yell, “Mother fucker.” She never looked back and the three split up and ran in separate directions into the woods. Justina hid there until it was safe for her to get a ride to her mother’s house in Central Falls.

Whiting contacted the Pawtucket Police and requested assistance then approached the open door of the green SUV and peered inside. He took a quick mental inventory of the contents but focused his attention on the handbag. He scooped it up and rifled through it finding Justina’s wad of cash. He stuck the money in his pocket and threw the dripping-wet handbag into the back seat with Justina’s other belongings.

Pawtucket Police Officer John Brown was working his patrol assignment during the Hurricane when he received the dispatch telling him to report to Paisley Street to assist North Providence Chief Whiting who was involved in a foot pursuit. At 10:51 A.M., approximately 3 minutes after receiving the call, Brown arrived on the scene. He observed Whiting’s black SUV parked behind the Green Explorer, which he noted, had collided head on with the car parked in the driveway. He noticed Whiting emerging from the area of the two vehicles and asked if he was engaged in a foot pursuit. Whiting acknowledged that he was but said that the suspects had eluded him. He wasn’t able to recall the precise number of people in the car but thought it might have been two. Neither could Whiting describe the suspects as male or female, black or white. He did inform Brown that the suspects fled west over the rear fence of 24 Paisley Street and down an embankment towards Galego Court, a public housing project. Brown notified dispatch to send officers to search the area.

Whiting explained to Brown some details of the incident indicating that someone in the green SUV threw a bottle at his vehicle as he tried to pass at the fallen tree. The bottle, he said, struck his vehicle on the front passenger side and he pointed out a scratch and small dent on the vehicles front fender. Brown continued gathering his own evidence and searched the green SUV. He noticed that the front interior of the vehicle was soaking wet due to the doors being left open when the suspects fled and he confiscated the white cell phone from the front seat of the Explorer. He also observed the brown and white colored Coach pocketbook located in the rear section of the Explorer scattered among various women’s lingerie, clothing and high-heel shoes. He wondered why the handbag was soaking wet while everything else in the back seat was dry. Looking inside the handbag Brown found a R.I. temporary paper license in the name of Justina Cardoso. On it was printed her July 3, 1990 date of birth and her address at 423 Weeden Street, Pawtucket. Brown contacted dispatch to send a police officer to that address.

When Brown informed Whiting, who was standing a short distance away watching Brown’s search, that he found the pocketbook and identified one of the vehicle’s occupants, Whiting’s left arm began to shake visibly. Brown placed the cell phone in his back pocket and put the handbag in his police cruiser. It was just about at that time that a uniformed North Providence Police Officer and two plain-clothes officers arrived at the scene and spoke with Whiting while Brown called to have Justina’s SUV towed away. The tow truck arrived at about10:22 A.M. Brown told Whiting that he would return to the Pawtucket Police Station to complete his report and contact Whiting with the results. Whiting, however, asked Brown to meet him at the Price Rite parking lot on Lonsdale Avenue instead because he wanted to talk.

Brown obliged and drove to Price Rite. Whiting pulled in a few moments later and parked his vehicle in the opposite direction in a driver’s-side to driver’s-side manner. Brown assumed that Whiting wanted to discuss the facts of the case and began to tell Whiting what he knew as a result of his investigation. To Brown’s surprise, Whiting was not interested in the case and instead told Brown that “he[‘s] been having personal problems as well as problems with his wife.” Brown was clearly uncomfortable with this line of conversation as the two, although having worked together for the Pawtucket Police for many years, did not really know each other too well and certainly did not have a close relationship. Brown quickly changed the subject back to the case at hand telling Whiting that he was going to report to the scene where the object was thrown at 107 Mineral Spring Avenue in an attempt to seize the item for evidence. Whiting did not want Brown to go unattended, however and quickly added that he would go as well.

Officer Brown and Chief Whiting arrived at site of the fallen tree at approximately 10:40 A.M. Both exited their vehicles and searched for the bottle. As they looked the white cell phone in Brown’s back pocket began to ring. It was Dawn Auclair, Justina’s mother, looking for her daughter. Brown was familiar with Auclair from previous police contacts and briefly explained that he needed to speak to Justina. He asked a compliant Auclair to try to contact her daughter and to tell her to report to the Pawtucket Police station. The search, meanwhile, proved fruitless as no bottle, glass fragments or other objects were found at the scene.

As Officer Brown began to enter his cruiser, Whiting approached the driver’s side, his left arm again visibly shaking. Whiting was staring forward, looking straight past Brown. Brown noted that Whiting appeared ashen in color as he began, “I’m contemplating telling you something.” Pointing to the pocketbook in the back seat of Brown’s cruiser he continued, “I’ve never stolen anything in my life.” He described how he found the pocketbook “loaded with cash” in the rear yard of 24 Paisley Street before Brown arrived. “I stole the money and put the pocket book in the rear of the green Explorer before you arrived on the scene. I’ve never stole anything in my life and I know you like to go to Las Vegas. Take this money and have fun. Don’t say anything about it.”

Whiting then handed over a roll of wet money to Officer Brown. Brown felt a wave of nausea overtake him as he took the money from Whiting’s hands. “I’ll call the North Providence Police Department with the results of my investigation,” Brown responded as he departed for the Pawtucket Police Headquarters on Roosevelt Avenue.

Whiting Needs a Vacation

There’s no doubt that Whiting was having a bad couple of years, but few in his position might be brazen enough to petition the court for a vacation. Whiting wasn’t deterred. Though having previously been granted permission from the court to stay in the vacation home that he owns in Fort Myers, a November 5, 2014 order granted Whiting’s request to take a cruise to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, leaving Fort Myers on November 15th and returning on November 20th. Upon reading the news, some in the community were outraged but Whiting probably never gave them a thought as he boarded the cruise ship to the Caribbean.

The Supreme Court Weighs In

When the day to appear before the Supreme Court finally arrived, attorney John B. Reilly said he was ill and petitioned the court to reschedule the hearing until May 6th,2015. On that date Whiting, dressed in a black suit and a grey tie, sat silently as the state’s highest court heard arguments from both sides. Reilly “told the court that Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Procaccini got it wrong when he rejected arguments at Whiting’s June 2012 trial that the former chief should be charged and sentenced on a misdemeanor larceny count, not a felony, because just weeks earlier state lawmakers changed the threshold for felony larceny from $500 to $1,500. ‘I believe that he made an error of law,’ Reilly said. The soliciting count, too, should be vacated he asserted. ‘By implication, it can no longer remain because count one is no longer a felony,’” 

For his part, “Assistant Attorney General Aaron L. Weisman countered that the conviction should stand. ‘We’ve said an offense is complete when the solicitation is made and at the time it was a felony.’” 

Just three weeks later, on May 27, 2015, the R.I. Supreme Court reacted to Whiting’s assertion that the lower court’s failure to consider the higher threshold for felony larceny was in error. The court “rejected the assertion that Procaccini got it wrong finding that the amended law should not be applied retroactively in the Whiting case.” Reilly indicated that he might file a motion to re-argue the case adding that “more likely than not there will be a motion to reduce the sentence.” 

That motion for sentence modification was filed shortly thereafter requesting that Whiting’s sentence be reduced because of mental stress due to marital strife that Whiting was undergoing at the time of the incident some 4 year’s earlier. Medical records supporting the assertion were filed with the court and held under seal.

The affidavit submitted by Whiting to the court in support of the motion revealed some of the details of the stress Whiting was under. The affidavit detailed Whiting’s move “to the family home in Florida while the appeal was pending, primarily due to ‘uncomfortable discord at home’ with his now ex-wife Izabella. He described the difficulty he had finding employment as a convicted felon. He lost a bartending job after three days because his skills, speed and thought processes weren’t a good fit. He cut grass for neighbors and ‘tried to improve himself by studying various things’ at a nearby library, the affidavit said. Whiting said that for quite some time before the August 28, 2011 incident, he and his wife had experienced marital difficulties. They had discussed divorce, but it did not seem financially possible as they had two children in college and his wife’s work in real estate was struggling after the financial downturn, the affidavit said. His wife had left for California more than a week before the incident and did not return his phone calls or text messages, he said. He discovered a written communication the night before that his wife had consulted a New Bedford lawyer about pursuing a divorce. ‘I was shocked by this and terribly upset to see this in black and white – and I remained shocked and upset when I left the house to go to work that morning,’ he wrote.” 

Judge Procaccini agreed to hear those arguments on July 7th, but appearing relatively unaffected by Whiting’s plea, he ordered the sheriff to handcuff the former chief who was destined to begin his prison sentence in the Adult Correctional Institution’s protective custody unit. Before Sheriffs led a glum Whiting from the courtroom however, Procaccini ordered that Whiting undergo a mental health assessment at the Adult Correctional Institution in addition to anger management.

It must have seemed like an eternity to Whiting, but to nearly everyone else, the days to the July 7th sentence reduction hearing passed as usual. Once again facing the judge, Whiting told of his marital and medical problems but remained reluctant to admit guilt or apologize for his August 28, 2011 actions, something that clearly irritated Procaccini. When he finished, a seemingly unmoved judge intoned sternly, “I’ve heard enough.” He noted that in his fourteen years as a judge he issued “example-type” sentences to only four people. In addition to Whiting they include two correctional officers and the once powerful state senator, John Celona, who entered a no contest plea to corruption charges. “There is no more difficult and demanding job in the world we live in than being a police officer and this defendant was the chief of police,” Procaccini said. “I’m 100 percent settled in my conviction on what the sentence should be. I’ve yet to have any regret about a sentence I’ve imposed, including this one,” the judge said. 

As the hearing drew to a close, a dejected Whiting was once again being led off to the ACI, but at attorney Reilly’s request, Procaccini left open the possibility of working out a program of home confinement and continued the hearing to August 18th.

When the hearing continued however, Procaccini seemed less convinced of his need to make an example of Whiting and agreed to allow the former chief to serve out the balance of his six-month prison term on electronically monitored confinement from an apartment in North Providence. “I am confident it will have no effect on his ability to be law abiding,” he said. Whiting, who sat in the courtroom attentively, wore his navy blue prison uniform. He now had a gray beard and very visible bags under each of his eyes, though he appeared relieved upon hearing the judge’s order.

But that relief was short lived. When notified of the ruling, lawyers for the Department of Corrections reported that Procaccini had acted outside his authority. Under Rhode Island state law, they said, only the director of corrections can recommend home confinement to the court and that can be done only after three-quarters of the original sentence had been served. Whiting has served less than two months and would need to remain behind bars for at least another two. Procaccini, in turn, vacated his order for home confinement and scheduled a new hearing to consider a motion to reduce Whiting’s sentence. That hearing was scheduled for Friday, August 21st.

On that day, John J. Whiting walked into court in handcuffs but left a free man after Judge Procaccini ordered that the prison sentence of the former police chief be reduced to the 58 days already served and the probation term be reduced from five years to three. According to Craig Berke, a judiciary

spokesman, the strong sentence given by the judge was intended “to send a message that a police chief is not above the law, and he believes he sent that message.” Whiting’s attorney noted that his client “lost 35 pounds during the 58 days he was held in protective custody in the ACI’s high-security unit.” He added that Whiting would not live in the North Providence apartment originally arranged for his home confinement, but would rather reconnect with family members which he did at the Attleboro office of attorney John B. Reilly.


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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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Buddy Cianci

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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