Robert Ciresi Convicted of Conspiracy, Bribery, and Extortion
Attorney, Former Town Solicitor, and Councilman Convicted for Role in North Providence Municipal Corruption
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 26, 2011|
PROVIDENCE, RI—A federal jury today returned guilty verdicts against Robert S. Ciresi, 77, an attorney and former North Providence town councilman and solicitor, who was accused of being a middleman in a corruption and kickback scheme run by three North Providence town councilmen. Ciresi was convicted of conspiracy, bribery, and Hobbs Act extortion; it was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office.
The jury returned its verdict after nearly five hours of deliberation over two days. Ciresi is scheduled to be sentenced on July 28, 2011, by U.S District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi. Ciresi faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in federal prison.
U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha commented, “The message we take from this verdict today is that no matter what their role is in public corruption: whether the bagman, the middleman, a lawyer who helps get it done, or the public official, this office will aggressively prosecute them. We will keep working as hard as we can to bring them to justice.”
Neronha also noted the courage and the cooperation of North Providence Councilman Paul Caranci, who brought the kickback schemes masterminded by three of his fellow town councilman to the attention of the FBI. “Without people like Paul Caranci, we are not able to do these kinds of cases,” said U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha. “Mr. Caranci has my thanks, and he should have the thanks of all the people in North Providence and the State of Rhode Island. As we all know public corruption is an issue in the State of Rhode Island, and without good people like Mr. Caranci, trial teams like the one that worked this case can’t take it on.”
Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office added, “The FBI is committed to holding accountable those that facilitate the illegal acts of public officials. Not only did Robert Ciresi facilitate the criminal activity of elected officials, he also violated his oath as an attorney to pursue justice. The guilty verdict represents a successful effort by the FBI to level the playing field in the State of Rhode Island.”
During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Terrence P. Donnelly presented evidence to the jury that an FBI investigation into the corrupt activity of the three North Providence town councilmen in 2009 and 2010 revealed that Robert Ciresi was acting as the middleman in a scheme in which the councilmen demanded and received a $25,000 bribe in exchange for their votes for a zoning variance to allow for the construction of a supermarket. FBI agents witnessed Ciresi delivering the bribe money to one of the councilmen the same night the council took the final vote.
In addition, evidence was presented at trial that Ciresi introduced one of the three councilmen to another person, with the intention that he be the middle man to facilitate a $75,000 bribe from a developer who wanted to build a condominium project. That man, North Providence businessman Edward Imondi, pleaded guilty for his role in the bribery and kickback scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi on May 16, 2011.
The three councilmen, Joseph S. Burchfield, Raymond L. Douglas III, and John A. Zambarano pleaded guilty in federal court for their roles in the bribery and kickback schemes. Burchfield and Douglas are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi on May 16, 2011. Zambarano is scheduled to be sentenced on May 17, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha commended the work of the prosecution team in this case, Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Terrence P. Donnelly, paralegal Kellyann Anderson, and lead FBI investigator Special Agent James Pitcavage.
The Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police assisted in the investigation of this matter