Cooperating Witness in North Providence Town Council Corruption Probe Recognized for “Acts of Political Courage”
PROVIDENCE, RI—Former North Providence town councilman and former Rhode Island Deputy Secretary of State Paul Caranci has been awarded the prestigious 2014 Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award, presented by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) for “acts of political courage.”
Mr. Caranci was honored in Washington on Wednesday for his role in assisting the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office during an investigation into political corruption within the North Providence town council in 2010. Mr. Caranci, who first alerted law enforcement to a kickback scheme to ensure enough votes for the approval of a zoning variance which was before the council, was instrumental in the investigation and the successful prosecution of three town councilmen and an attorney who masterminded and participated in the bribery scheme.
It is the first time in the 22-year history of the award that a Secretary of State Office representative has received the honor. Former recipients include former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Civil Rights heroine Rosa Parks, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former President Jimmy Carter.
According to a NASS press release announcing the award in July 2014, “Mr. Caranci was nominated for the award by Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson for his courage in working with the FBI and other law enforcement entities to expose public corruption and bribery schemes that were masterminded by three of his fellow town councilmen in North Providence, R.I., placing his own political career and personal and family safety at great risk.”
“Being selected to receive the Margaret Chase Smith Award by the nation’s Secretaries of State and all of the officials who comprise the organization is an extraordinary honor,” remarked Paul Caranci. “More than that, it is an amazing opportunity for me to reunite with so many wonderful friends. I am grateful for their considerations and their many friendships.”
“The fight against public corruption, so critical in Rhode Island, cannot be waged effectively unless residents who are aware of it come forward and report it,” said United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha. “In the North Providence case, Mr. Caranci, unlike some others, saw corruption and decided to do something about it. He had no obligation to do so. He wasn’t directly impacted by it. He could have done nothing. And yet, to the consternation of some, he decided to do the right thing.”
Mr. Neronha added, “When every Rhode Islander reacts to corruption like Mr. Caranci did, we will eliminate this blight on our state. Mr. Caranci has my enormous gratitude, and he deserves the gratitude of all Rhode Islanders.”
Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the FBI noted, “Mr. Caranci’s cooperation was critical to uncovering the depth of this conspiracy. Concerned citizens like him are the FBI’s biggest asset in rooting out public corruption and exposing those who have abused the public’s trust. We thank him for his selfless donation of time in support of this case.”