It would appear not. As with everything else in the whole Plunder Dome fiasco,
the verdict on Monday, June 24, was laced with irony and confusion. Judge
Torres, having left open the possibility of reversing the racketeering
conspiracy conviction on Count Numero Uno, gives the jacket stain some
possibility of turning into disappearing ink (at least by the Bud-I's
So for his hardcore supporters, the mayor's current status remains up in the
air until after a hearing next week. But your superior correspondents have a
sense that the guilty plea will be sustained, leaving the Bud-I's last hope
with the appeals court. If you recall, on June 4, when Judge Torres threw out
the racketeering charges against Edward Voccola, he also tossed three counts
against Corrente and five counts against the Bud-I. They were dismissed after
the judge ruled that the government failed to prove the charges. But the RICO
conspiracy charge against the remaining three defendants was still there. Can
we gather from this that the judge found there was sufficient evidence to
warrant it? It's also quite rare for a judge to overturn convictions rendered
by a jury.
We don't believe the jury was "confused" about the law. The conspiracy count
against the Bud-I can make sense even though all the other charges were a wash.
The big question is about the evidence that jurors used to come to this
decision, and since we can't get into their heads, this remains a source of
Many assume Mayor Cianci knows about virtually everything that goes on at City
Hall. He is too smart and demanding not to. However, just assuming that the
Bud-I is on top of things doesn't make for a guilty verdict. There must have
been evidence, found credible by the jury, indicating his involvement.
During the marathon media coverage of Judgement Day, a snippet from Channel
10's video archives was perhaps the most damning bit of non-testimony. It was
taped on April 28, 1999, the day that federal agents swooped down on City Hall
to retrieve documents from a number of offices. Jim Taricani appeared on the
scene and buttonholed Frank Corrente, then the mayor's top aide, in a corridor
outside his office. "What's going on? . . . Does the mayor know about this?"
Taricani asked Corrente. Frankie's reply was that the mayor knows about
everything going on at City Hall.
A number of candidates for mayor certainly made some hay outside the federal
courthouse on Monday as word of the verdict filtered out. David Cicilline got
to repeat a truncated version of his standard stump speech on all three
television stations, as well as talk radio. Keven McKenna was also there in all
his unhinged glory, gabbing with the reporters. Even Greg Gerritt, the
under-financed and under-reported Green Party candidate, was able to get on
Greg is a good and thoughtful man, but if the people of Providence are loathe
to stray from the Buddy System (it's strictly anecdotal, not to mention moot,
but the number of on the street interviewees who expressed ongoing support for
the mayor was quite astounding), how are they going to elect a guy in hiking
gear and a baseball cap? It's not unlike the Bob Healey dilemma: the people may
be way behind the curve, but they're the voters and that's that.
The big question is whether a number of potential candidates, among them
former Mayor Joe Paolino, City Council President John Lombardi, and Judge Frank
"Caught in Providence" Caprio, make a move. Will the public perceive them as
Johnny-come-latelys and instead prefer Cicilline, McKenna, and Gerritt, who
each took the more courageous route of opposing the Bud-I before the verdict?
Sound strategic thinking suggests to P&J that any other potential
candidates will hold off filing until the final hour (that's Wednesday, June 26
at 4 p.m.). Needless to say, a little thing that we like to call "deadline"
precludes us from telling you whose what is where.
On the front page of the Boston Globe of Friday, June 21, the astute
editors of the official organ of the Athens of America used a photo depicting
the Bud-I and his lawyer, Richard Egbert, conferring in front of US District
Court. The caption said the two other men in the picture were Hizzoner's
co-defendants. This certainly came as a shock to one of the men pictured,
JARhead Jim Taricani, Channel 10's ace investigative reporter. The other was
obviously a court officer, whose badge and speaker device were clearly
Bud-I still had enough of his famed sense of humor to get a copy of that day's
Globe and autograph it for Taricani. (We told you shouldn't have played
that undercover tape on TV, Jim. And be careful of the company you keep in
public, for God's sake.)
* Who let the dogs out? In the aftermath of the verdict, TV and radio stations
couldn't get enough "man in the street" interviews, which, in Our Little Towne,
means wading hip-deep into the Moron Majority. Of all the deranged ramblings
from interviewees and talk-radio callers, none could top the comment by a
well-tattooed fellow, not of our acquaintance, whom we encountered while
watching the live TV coverage in our of our favorite watering holes.
After it was announced that the Bud-I had been capped on the racketeering
charge, this fellow turned to your superior correspondents, saying, "Son of a
bitch. Those feds are smart. You see that mobster John Gotti that died the
other day? You know he was in a closed casket at his funeral? They got him in a
witness protection plan somewhere in Europe right now." Oh, we were somehow
unaware of that. Rather than being a non sequitur, it's kind of amazing how the
great minds piece things together, n'est-ce pas? Another round for us
and our genius friend, barkeep. A votre sante, Monsieurs Gotti
* Philippe and Jorge have rarely seen the Bud-I stumble over his words as much
as the usually glib mayor did during his news conference after the jury's
decision. He also looked incredibly worn, even by his typical hound dog-eyed
standard. But credit to Cianci for the remarkable, "Hey, they only got me on
one count! I was innocent on 11 others!" performance. Other than that, how did
you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
* You know the local media were absolutely desperate during the verdict watch
when they started interviewing and taking pictures of each other. Things are
dire indeed when coverage consists of JARhead Gene Valicenti interviewing
WHJJ's favorite men's room warrior, "Journalist John" DePetro, and the Urinal's
running a photo of Channel 6's Jim Hummel sunning himself in Kennedy Plaza.
(Hope you had that Number 756 sunscreen on, Opie; We don't want to have a
freckle explosion just before you get mucho face time on camera.)
And need we say more about the sudden ascension of famed Bud-I cheerleader
Walter Miller, who was approaching a Britney Spears-like level of media
exposure before the jury blessedly came back? This no doubt spared us shots of
Channel 12's Sean Daly bungee-jumping off the roof of the Biltmore, or Kelly
McGee interviewing Jim Taricani interviewing Frank Coletta as he rolled archive
footage of Salty's Shack on a big-screen TV outside Haven Brothers.
* As evidenced by the Washington Post's Plunder Dome story of June 25,
the big trial will spark another recount of the notorious political past of La
Prov and the Biggest Little. These will include references to Lincoln Steffens,
the Bud-I's previous turn in court for the infamous log-and-ashtray discussion
with Ray DeLeo, and Ed "Gerber Baby" DiPrete's post-Dumpster diving stay at the
state's pleasure. Maybe there's still enough time for NBC's Providence
to merge with HBO's The Sopranos in time for the fall season.
Because of the Bud-I's popularity, the US Attorney's office in general and lead
prosecutor Richard Rose, in particular, have been the targets of scurrilous
rumors and nasty comments. One thing that Phillipe & Jorge have always
believed is that Margaret Curran, Richard Rose, Terrence Donnelly, and the rest
of the crew at the US Attorney's office, are honest, good, and passionate
It could be that Mr. Rose's passion got the better of him at times, but no one
is going to convince us that he's vindictive or involved in anything other than
doing his job to the best of his abilities. These abilities have proven
formidable. Up against arguably one of the most skillful trial lawyers in the
United States (Mr. Egbert), Richard Rose proved his mettle.
A few weeks back, your superior correspondents were at a birthday celebration
for a dear friend of ours who had just turned 50. Another guest was one of the
Biggest Little's finest lawyers (whose name we will not divulge). Naturally,
conversation turned to the trial, which was just wrapping up at the time. The
lawyer offered the opinion that although he thought the defendants would be
found not guilty on many of the charges, "Richard Rose put on a brilliant
prosecution." Our friend thought Richard did a masterful job of tying all the
strands of the conspiracy together in an extremely complicated case. He was
Where have you gone, Mayor Curley?
If former Boston Mayor James Michael Curley can get re-elected from prison, why
should we doubt the Bud-I's ability to replicate the same incredible stunt, his
lack of interest notwithstanding?
Although Buddy has rejected calls to resign, AG Sherbet Whitebread says Cianci
is obliged to resign upon his sentencing on September 6. Should there
ultimately be an appellate court ruling (depending upon Judge Torres's imminent
decision on the jury verdict), he may also be in the can at that point.
Given the Bud-I's unique standing in Our Little Towne, confinement would not
have ended his hopes of being re-elected. In fact, in a perverse way, it might
have improved them. Since most of the big-time corporate execs who work
downtown and worry about the taint of corruption don't live in the city, the
final decision would have come down to many people who believe Cianci's
flamboyance and trumpeting of the capital city have been a big plus.
For those of you who had the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl, you would have
known P&J's advice.
Send keys to the beach house and Pulitzer-grade tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issue Date: June 27 - July 4, 2002