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September 15, 2006
Red Sox rained out; back-to-back doubleheaders next
NEW YORK -- Tonight's Red Sox-Yankees matchup has been rained out, according to the team's Web site.
The teams will now play back-to-back doubleheaders tomorrow and Sunday -- four games in two days. Tomorrow's first game is scheduled to start at 1:20 p.m., the second at 8:05 p.m.
Going into the four-game series, the Red Sox trail the archrival Yankees by 11.5 games with less than three weeks in the regular season.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 6:47 PM
Update: Suspect sought in Providence shooting
PROVIDENCE – The police have issued an arrest warrant for a Providence man they allege shot another in the face on Bridgham Street in the West End last night.
Esdras Maldonado Serrano, 28, of the West End, is wanted for three criminal charges including assault with a dangerous weapon and a drive-by shooting.
The victim has been indentified as 25-year-old Alexis Carrero, of Bridgham Street, Detective Charles Boranian said this morning. He was listed in serious condition at Rhode Island Hospital early this afternoon.
-- projo.com staff writers Kate Bramson and Steve Peoples, with reports from Journal staff writer Amanda Milkovits
Patrolwoman Amy Bibeault had heard shots fired in the area of Bridgham and Cranston streets around 10:19 p.m., Boranian said.
Carrero was found covered in blood inside a white Ford Windstar van with a gunshot wound to his head, face, torso, arms and hands. Police found a shotgun shell on the corner of Bridgham and Cranston streets.
The van was stopped near a house at 168 Bridgham St., Boranian said. There was a female passenger in the vehicle at the time of the shooting, according to the police report, but the woman was not injured.
-- projo.com staff writers Kate Bramson and Steve Peoples, with reports from Journal staff writer Amanda Milkovits
Posted by Steve Peoples at 6:35 PM
Chafee campaign condemns Web site 'prank'
The campaign for U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee is condemning what it calls "a juvenile prank" involving its Web site.
"It has been brought to the Chafee campaign’s attention that if Web users type in the URL sheldonsucks.org, they are immediately brought to the Chafee for Senate Web site," the Chafee campaign said in a statement this afternoon. "This is not the work of the Chafee campaign, its Web site host, or anyone involved with the organization."
Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse is seeking the Rhode Island Republican Chafee's seat in the November election in a high-profile race that could affect the party balance in the Senate.
The URL sheldonsucks.org was purchased in May and amended in July, according to GoDaddy.com, a company that registers domain names, or Web addresses, and hosts Web sites. But the site does not disclose who purchased the name.
“This is unacceptable and we call on whoever is responsible to stop this juvenile prank,” Chafee campaign manager Ian Lang said in a statement today. “Yesterday the Chafee campaign notified Mr. Whitehouse’s campaign and let them know that we had nothing to do with this, we think it's wrong, and we call on responsible parties to stop their pranks. It is unfair to both campaigns to allow these Web tricks to continue unaddressed.”
-- projo.com staff writer Steve Peoples
Posted by Steve Peoples at 5:58 PM
Update: Urciuoli lawyer Egbert strikes back at Celona
PROVIDENCE -- The cross-examination of John Celona has begun.
After three days of testifying for the government in the Roger Williams Medical Center corruption trial, the former state senator faced a withering barrage of questions late this afternoon from the defense lawyer for former hospital president Robert Urciuoli.
Richard M. Egbert -- who defended former Providence Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. in his corruption trial -- questioned Celona for about 50 minutes, in a fiery prelude of much more to come next week.
Egbert immediately challenged a central premise of the government’s case – and Celona’s repeated testimony – that the longtime North Providence senator concealed his financial relationship with Roger Williams even as he worked for six years as a consultant to its affiliate, the Village at Elmhurst.
Egbert and Celona had several sharp exchanges, with Egbert challenging Celona’s credibility and Celona asking Egbert to behave professionally.
"You knew everybody knew – this is a big fiction,’’ charged Egbert.
"You’re trying to put words in my mouth,’’ protested Celona. "I can’t assume everyone knew.’’
"I’m not trying to put words in your mouth,’’ shot back Egbert. "I’m trying to figure out what’s in your head.’’
-- Journal staff writer Mike Stanton
Celona's cross-examination came after he took the stand for the third day in the corruption trial of Urciuoli, Frances P. Driscoll, both former hospital executives, and Peter J. Sangermano Jr. They are charged with stealing his honest services as a state senator.
Egbert opened by showing Celona an Operation Clean Government list of lawmakers, which listed his occupation as a consultant to the Village at Elmhurst. Egbert also produced a Rhode Island Government Owner’s Manual, which also listed Celona’s occupation as a consultant to the Village.
"Surely you weren’t keeping your relationship with the Village a secret?’’ asked Egbert.
"No,’’ answered Celona.
"And certainly it was no secret that the Village had a relationship with Roger Williams Medical Center?’’
Celona replied that he wasn’t sure that "people on the street’’ knew. Egbert countered with a photograph of a sign outside The Village at Elmhurst, identifying it as a partner with Roger Williams.
Egbert also confronted Celona with a 1998 Providence Journal article that described his consulting job, and a memo that Celona wrote to Urciuoli in 2000 regarding a meeting with two WJAR-Channel 10 television reporters, in which Celona said he professed his "loyalties’’ to Roger Williams.
"That’s the dirty deal here – you didn’t want anybody to know you’re loyal to Roger Williams, right?’’ demanded Egbert.
"My loyalties weren’t secret – my employment was,’’ said Celona, who had testified that while his contract was with the Village, he didn’t tell people about his real work for the hospital, including on legislative matters.
Read more about Celona's testimony earlier today ...
Posted by Steve Peoples at 5:39 PM
DEM fines gas company over Tiverton contamination
PROVIDENCE -- The state Department of Environmental Management has imposed fines of $1,000 a day against Southern Union for its failure to come up with remediation plans for contaminated soil in North Tiverton, Governor Carcieri announced yesterday.
The daily fines are retroactive to last Jan. 4, the date the remediation plans were due in DEM offices. Southern Union's fines total $253,000 as of Thursday, the day the notice was mailed.
Southern Union has 20 days to appeal the notice to DEM's Adjudication Division.
Based in Houston, Southern Union is the parent company of New England Gas, which DEM has identified as responsible for the dumping of toxic soil in a North Tiverton neighborhood covering some 50 acres.
DEM has traced the contamination to wastes left from the burning of coal to create gas at the former Fall River Gas Co. New England Gas acquired Fall River Gas in 2000.
-- Journal staff writer Gina Macris
Posted by Steve Peoples at 5:24 PM
Police probe death of teen found in Cranston backyard
CRANSTON -- Police are investigating the death of a 17-year-old girl found in the backyard of a family member’s home this morning in the Stadium neighborhood.
Police released few details today as they awaited autopsy results from the state Medical Examiner’s Office. Officials said the girl’s body was found early this morning by relatives at 5 Aetna St.
Maj. Ronald Blackmar said that detectives are investigating. Police have partial autopsy results but are waiting for toxicology reports, he said.
"This is an unexplained sudden death, so at this time we’re investigating every aspect of her last known whereabouts, and we are pursuing every lead while we await the full autopsy results,’’ Blackmar said.
Police are not identifying the girl at this time, he said. Asked if she was a student at a local school, Blackmar said that it appears that she was not attending any school.
He said she had not been reported missing and had not been out of touch with her family.
-- Journal staff writer Barbara Polichetti
Posted by Steve Peoples at 4:54 PM
Update: Reed home with 'clean bill of health'
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jack Reed is home from the hospital, according to a statement released this afternoon from his spokesman, Chip Unruh.
"Senator Reed is back at home. He is doing great and has a clean bill of health,” Unruh said.
Reed was hospitalized overnight for observation after feeling faint late Thursday, his office announced this morning.
Reed's office had initially said he was to be discharged shortly from George Washington University Hospital, then confirmed his release at about 4 p.m.
Unruh said the senator felt faint late last night, called his doctor and was advised to go to the hospital as a precaution. " While he felt normal by the time he got to the hospital, he remained there under observation overnight," said Unruh.
Reed cancelled several appointments he had planned to keep in Rhode Island today, "but he is feeling great'' and has been doing some work by telephone and e-mail from the hospital, Unruh said.
--- John E. Mulligan, Journal Washington Bureau
Posted by Steve Peoples at 4:08 PM
Redgrave, Danes, Streep, Close in Newport for a movie
NEWPORT _ Vanessa Redgrave, Claire Danes, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Toni Collette and Natasha Richardson are in the City by the Sea to film the movie Evening, which has begun shooting at The Ledge estate.
Steven Feinberg, director of the Rhode Island Film & Television Office, said yesterday that the entire film will be shot in Newport and in Tiverton at a location he refused to disclose. He expects that Evening will be filming in the area for eight weeks.
More to come tomorrow in The Journal and on projo.com
--- Michael Janusonis, Journal Arts Writer
Posted by Peter Phipps at 4:03 PM
Family Court chief judge complains of lack of sheriffs
A lack of manpower within the State Sheriff’s Department forced postponements in Family Court today and the chief judge there says judges may have no choice "but to release these potentially dangerous juveniles’’ if something isn’t done soon.
"It is inconceivable that the security of the judiciary employees and members of the public are being compromised daily,’’ said Chief Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr. in a statement.
Jeremiah said he had sent two letters recently to High Sheriff Gary P. Dias expressing concern over the "long-standing lack of adequate sheriff staffing’’ within Family Court and other courts.
The Sheriff’s Department has a policy that two sheriffs are needed in every court room any time prisoners are transported in from a cellblock. If there aren’t two sheriffs for a specific court room, a prisoner won’t be brought in.
-- Journal staff writer Tom Mooney
Jeremiah said another Family Court Judge, Stephen Capineri, reported he had 16 detained juveniles on his calendar yesterday but could not preside over their cases because they were not brought before him. Juveniles cannot be detained at the Rhode Island Training School for longer than five days without a probable cause hearing, said Jeremiah.
"Without sheriffs to transport detained juveniles to the court room, Family Court judges will have no choice but to release these potentially dangerous juveniles back into the community,’’ the judge said.
High Sheriff Dias said today that of the department of 196 sheriffs and deputies, about 23 sheriffs are out on long-term illness, injury or serving in the military.
Dias disputed the judge’s claim that the situation is approaching a point where dangerous juveniles would be released. Several family courts deal with civil matters, Dias said, and he would request that those courts take a temporary recess to allow those sheriffs to help out in courts dealing with criminal charges.
"If for any reason I thought I was about to violate someone’s due process rights or a danger person was about to be released back into the community, I would do what ever I had to to to make sure that wouldn’t happen,’’ said Dias.
-- Journal staff writer Tom Mooney
Posted by Steve Peoples at 3:34 PM
Brown receives $26.5 million gift
A Brown University alumna and her husband have given the school $26.5 million to establish scholarships for women enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs.
The trust of the late Eleanor H. Schwartz, a graduate of the class of 1929, and her husband, the late Frederic N. Schwartz, made the gift, which was announced today. Frederic Schwartz was a former chairman of the board and director of Bristol-Myers Sqibb, a major drug company.
"Future generations of women from across the nation will be the beneficiaries of the family’s generosity," said James S. Miller, dean of admissions at Brown.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 3:23 PM
Barack Obama to visit R.I. for Whitehouse
PROVIDENCE -- U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., will visit Rhode Island next month at a fundraiser for Senate candidate Sheldon Whitehouse.
The Whitehouse campaign announced Obama's visit this afternoon. Obama will be the featured "special guest" at the fundraiser on Oct. 12 at 5:30 p.m.
While the event is set to take place in Providence, the exact location has not been announced.
Whitehouse is running against Republican incumbent Lincoln Chafee.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 3:13 PM
Update: Three-car accident clogs 95 South
A three-car accident has backed up traffic at least two miles on Interstate 95 South before Exit 5 in West Greenwich.
The state Department of Transportation reports that all three lanes were open at 2:20, about 35 minutes after the accident.
The DOT announced at 1:45 that traffic had been reduced to one lane.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 2:33 PM
Celona's tale of corruption continues
PROVIDENCE -- When John Celona became part of the Rhode Island Senate leadership in 2001, he testified today, he asserted his newfound power on behalf of his employer, Roger Williams Medical Center.
Celona's assertions came during his third day of testimony in the corruption trial of Robert A. Urciuoli, Frances P. Driscoll and Peter J. Sangermano Jr. They are charged with stealing his honest services as a state senator from North Providence.
Celona read memos recounting how he tried to pressure Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, on Urciuoli’s instructions, to increase its reimbursement payments to Roger Williams. He said that he did so at the direction of Urciuoli, then the president of Roger Williams.
As the new chairman of the Senate Corporations Committee, Celona had the power to advance or kill bills of importance to a myriad of companies, including Blue Cross and United Healthcare, which were each embroiled in a dispute with Roger Williams over insurance payments.
When it appeared in December of 2000 that he would become the Corporations chairman, Celona testified that he gave the good news to Urciuoli, adding, "As you know, all the health-care legislation goes through Corporations."
Celona read from an e-mail he sent Urciuoli in 2001, in which he wrote that he was "still keeping the pressure on Blue Cross and will continue to do so until they start telling the truth and acting fairly."
Celona also wrote Urciuoli that Blue Cross president Ron Battista had asked to appear on the senator’s cable-access television show, but that Celona would not allow him on the show until Blue Cross "came to the table" and negotiated with Roger Williams.
Asked how he was keeping the pressure on Blue Cross, Celona replied, "They were pushing their legislation, and it was a time that they needed it to be passed."
-- Journal staff writer Mike Stanton
Earlier today, Celona recounted other legislation he got involved with on the instructions of Driscoll and Sangermano.
He testified that he even introduced a bill regulating jet skis at the behest of two board members at Roger Williams who had complained about jet skis "at their summer homes or permanent homes."
Asst. U.S. Atty. Luis Matos told the judge at the lunch break today that he expected to question Celona for another one to one-and-a-half hours. That leaves it open whether Urciuoli’s lawyer, Richard M. Egbert, will begin cross-examining Celona later today or whether he will have to wait until Monday.
The trial is in its fifth day and is expected to go five weeks.
-- Journal staff writer MIke Stanton
Posted by Steve Peoples at 1:43 PM
Update: Giordano gets 2 1/2 years for skimming nursing homes
PROVIDENCE -- A former nursing home owner was sentenced today to 2 1/12 years in prison and fined $100,000 for his role in skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars from three area nursing homes.
U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi handed down the sentence for Antonio Giordano early this afternoon, shortly after she had sentenced his former chief financial officer, John J. Montecalvo, to two years in prison.
Both had pleaded guilty to the federal felony charges in June.
The two were also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $780,539, which they had been accused of skimming from the defunct Hillside Health Center in Providence, the former Coventry Health Center and Mount St. Francis Health Center in Woonsocket. At the time, the nursing homes were in default of their multimillion-dollar federal mortgages or operating in the red.
Giordano's lawyer said his client has the funds to pay the restitution, which should be done within a few days.
The sentences was handed down before a packed courtroom and after lawyers for Montecalvo and the prosecution spent more than an hour addressing the court.
Montecalvo's lawyer had argued for a prison sentence of six months, followed by 12 months home confinement. The prosecution sought 2 years, based on the minimum federal guidelines.
Montecalvo was not fined because he "has no abililty to pay."
Both Montecalvo and Giordano were ordered to surrender themselves on Oct. 13 at facilities to be assigned.
More to come...
-- With reports from projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 1:30 PM
Health Dept. warns: Don't eat the spinach
The Rhode Island Department of Health is advising stores and restaurants to discard all bagged fresh spinach, and for consumers to do the same, after an outbreak of E coli in multiple states that may be linked to spinach consumption.
"The Department of Health is helping disseminate this advisory from the Food and Drug Administration, and we are warning people that we don’t want them eating fresh bagged spinach if they’ve bought it and have it at home,’’ said spokesperson Mariah Wah-Fitta.
"Washing it isn’t going to help,’’ Wah-Fitta said. She explained that E-coli can get into the plant or its roots, "and there is nothing to do to make it right at this point.’’
No cases of E. coli from the spinach have been reported in Rhode Island, Wah-Fitta said.
-- Journal staff writer Karen Lee Ziner
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 12:43 PM
Pawtucket council challenger keeps seat after recount
A recount today in a Pawtucket City Council race resulted in no change.
After a precinct by precinct check at the state Board of Elections at noon, challenger Henry S. Kinch Jr. maintained his 57-vote lead over incumbent Councilman Albert J. Vitali Jr.
Vitali conceded the race but said he would likely return in two years to run again.
-- Journal staff writer John Castellucci
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 12:39 PM
RIPEC study: Casino would cut into state revenues
If a casino proposed for West Warwick becomes a reality, it would take business away from Rhode Island's existing gambling parlors and cause a revenue loss for the state, according to preliminary results from a six-month study conducted by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.
Gary Sasse, executive director of the business-backed policy research group, discussed the study's results at a meeting of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council this morning.
He said the study shows that the casino, which is proposed by the Narragansett Indian tribe and backed by Harrah's Entertainment, would significantly cut into Lincoln Park and Newport Grand's business, lowering the state's revenue from the locations.
Also, Harrah's is expected to pay a lower tax rate to the state than Lincoln Park and Newport Grand. This combination would have an "obvious impact on the state," said Sasse.
The General Assembly voted to put a casino question on the ballot in November, which, if approved, would change the state Constitution to permit the casino.
-- Journal staff writer Andrea Stape
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 12:10 PM
Photo: Celona is back in court
Former state senator John Celona returns this morning to U.S. District Court in Providence to testify against three former Roger Williams Medical Center executives. Defense lawyer Richard M. Egbert could get a chance to cross examine Celona. In his opening statement Egbert said: "John Celona is going to get on the stand and tell you some whoppers."
Journal photo --- Bob Thayer
Posted by Peter Phipps at 10:25 AM
Update: Power restored to Federal Hill
PROVIDENCE – Power has been restored for 635 customers in the area of Federal Hill, West Exchange and downtown who lost power early this morning.
National Grid restored power for 469 customers at 1:57 a.m., one hour and four minutes after getting the report of the failure, spokesman David Graves said.
A car that crashed into an electrical pole in front of the dispatch center for city police and fire crews snapped the pole in half, according to James Taylor, chief of communications for the Providence Fire Department.
The wooden pole and equipment on it had to be replaced, Graves said. That work took the rest of the night. Power for the remaining 166 customers was back on at 8:20 a.m., Graves said.
At the city’s dispatch center, at 1 Communications Place, a generator kicked into action and kept the dispatchers functioning through the night, Taylor said.
The driver of the car was transported to Rhode Island Hospital. More details on that person’s condition are not available at this time.
-- projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson
Posted by Kate Bramson at 9:23 AM
There's a contest for everything, even snow-plow driving
PROVIDENCE – Snow probably isn’t on your mind yet, but it is on the minds of Providence snow-plow drivers.
They’re getting ready to put their skills to work on Tuesday in the Providence Snow Plow Rhodeo, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Roger Williams Park Casino.
The winner walks away with bragging rights – and the chance to compete in the next competition, the state’s 12th Annual Snow Plow Rhodeo on Sept. 26, which is sponsored by the Rhode Island Public Works Association and also at Roger Williams Park.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:18 AM
First the fog, then the rain
PROVIDENCE – It isn’t raining yet, but it probably will be soon.
We’ve got a 70 percent chance of rain, mainly before 3 p.m., so grab a raincoat or an umbrella before leaving the house today.
It’s a little foggy downtown, and the fog could stick with us until around noon or so.
Tonight it should be mostly cloudy with a low around 58.
As for the weekend, Saturday looks a bit gloomy and rainy, but Sunday should be a mix of clouds and sunshine – with a high near 81.
Get the latest conditions and forecasts from projo.com.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 6:52 AM