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September 20, 2006
FLASH: Derderians plead no contest to Station fire charges
PROVIDENCE -- Michael and Jeffrey Derderian will plead no contest later this month to the 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter that each face in The Station fire trial.
The brothers were co-owners of the West Warwick nightclub, which was destroyed by fire on Feb. 20, 2003, killing 100 people and injuring more than 200.
The announcement was contained in a letter dated today from state Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch to families of fire victims.
The plea comes as jury selection was in progress in the trial of Michael Derderian.
The two are due to enter their plea on Sept. 29.
In exchange, Michael Derderian will be sentenced to 15 years in prison with four years to serve, followed by three years probation. Jeffrey Derderian will be sentenced to 10 years in prison, all suspended, with three years probation, and 500 hours of community service.
A third defendant, Daniel Biechele, had previously pleaded guilty to the same charges. He was sentenced to 15 years, with four to serve. Biechele was the band manager for Great White, who touched off the pyrotechnics that started the blaze. The worst fire in state history, it reverberated around the country, spurring reviews and changes in fire codes.
More to come...
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 6:00 PM
S. Kingstown man charged with shooting his dog
SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- A local man was arrested today after police found his 9-year-old Rottweiler in a 4-foot-deep hole with a gunshot wound to the back of its head and the owner ready to cover the dog with dirt, police said.
A Verizon worker reported to police around noon that he heard a gunshot and saw a Rottweiler walk out of the woods and toward the house at 590 Rose Hill Rd., said Capt. Jeffrey Allen. The dog was pursued by a man, who grabbed it by the neck and took it back to the woods.
Responding officers found blood on the sidewalk and a trail of blood leading to the hole. The wounded dog, a female named Blaze Jules Thomas Ferguson, was sitting inside with a gunshot to the back of the head and blood coming from the mouth, Allen said. A man, identified as Donald E. Ferguson, was crouched at the edge of hole, with a shovel and 9mm Ruger handgun nearby.
Ferguson, 42, of 590 Rose Hill Rd., explained that he was trying to put his dog down because it had bad hips and kidney and bladder problems, Allen said.
The dog was taken to Washington County Veterinary Hospital, where blood tests determined that dog had Lyme disease but was otherwise healthy, Allen said. It appeared that the bullet had exited the body, Allen said.
Police charged Ferguson with malicious injury to animals, a felony, Allen said. He was expected to be arraigned before a bail commissioner. Under state law, he faces up to two years in prison and $1,000 in fines.
-- Journal staff writer Katie Mulvaney
Posted by Steve Peoples at 5:42 PM
Update: Lawyer advised hiring Celona was 'bad idea'
PROVIDENCE -- A lawyer for Roger Williams Medical Center testified today that he thought it was a "bad idea" when then-hospital president Robert A. Urciuoli said he wanted to hire a state senator, John A. Celona, as a consultant.
James R. McGuirk, a partner in Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, told a federal jury this afternoon that he opposed the idea because he didn’t believe Celona, who had operated a lawn mower store, had the experience, and also because his position as a senator "presented enormous conflicts.’’
"I didn’t think it was a good idea. I thought it was a bad idea,’’ said McGuirk. "I didn’t think he brought any value.’’
Urciuoli, the former president of Roger Williams, is on trial in federal court with two other hospital executives on charges of stealing Celona's honest services as a senator. The former state senator from North Providence has pleaded guilty to selling his office to Roger Williams, CVS and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, and is testifying as part of his agreement to cooperate in this case and other, ongoing investigations of State House influence peddling.
McGuirk, who described himself as a close friend of Urciuoli’s, said that he advised him of his opinion, but Urciuoli insisted, arguing that Celona would help recruit residents to the Village at Elmhurst through his extensive political network of senior citizens.
Consequently, McGuirk advised Urciuoli that Celona’s duties should be clearly spelled out in a consulting contract, and the hospital should obtain an advisory opinion from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission, defining what Celona could and could not do as a legislator regarding health-care issues.
Earlier this afternoon, Celona finally left the witness stand, stepping down after nearly six day of testimony.
-- Journal staff writer Mike Stanton
Celona didn't know Sangermano didn't want to hire him
Posted 1:16 p.m.
PROVIDENCE -- Former state Sen. John A. Celona testified today that he was unaware that Peter Sangermano did not want to hire him as a consultant to The Village at Elmhurst.
Sangermano, who co-owned the Providence assisted-living center with Roger Williams Medical Center, is on trial in federal court with former hospital president Robert A. Urciuoli and ex-hospital executive Frances P. Driscoll. The three are charged with conspiring to steal Celona’s honest services by hiring him as a consultant.
Under cross-examination by John Pappalardo, Sangermano’s lawyer, Celona testified that he had lunch with Sangermano when he started, and was told simply, ``Welcome aboard.’’
Celona was hired at the urging of Urciuoli, and Roger Williams wound up paying his salary because Sangermano refused.
Nevertheless, Pappalardo questioned Celona about a number of appearances that the former North Providence senator made at nursing homes and other places, arguing that Celona did legitimate work promoting the Village to senior citizens.
Read today's Journal story on yesterday's testimony.
-- By Journal staff writer Mike Stanton
Posted by Jack Perry at 5:14 PM
Democrats file ethics complaint against Carcieri
PROVIDENCE -- Rhode Island Democrats accuse Republican Governor Carcieri of breaking the state's ethics code.
Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch says Carcieri's campaign sent fund-raising letters to two executive branch employees. He says the state ethics code makes it illegal for Carcieri to solicit campaign donations from anyone in the executive branch.
The allegations are part of a complaint that Lynch filed today with the state Ethics Commission.
One of the men, Albert Nani, works as a human relations analyst for the Department of Administration. The other man, Robert Moniz, is a supervisory electrical inspector for the Department of Transportation.
Carcieri said the letter was "probably a clerical issue."
"That shouldn't happen," he said, adding "I'm not about soliciting state employees at their place of business."
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Steve Peoples at 4:34 PM
Update: Ice pick victim wanted in Minn. rape
PROVIDENCE – Charles Lewis walked into the Broad Street fire station early this morning bleeding from multiple stab wounds in his face, neck and chest. Authorities believe he was stabbed with an ice pick.
Shortly after firefighters transported him to Rhode Island Hospital at about 2 a.m., the police learned that Lewis, 40, of Lenox Avenue, Providence, was wanted on rape charges in Minnesota.
He has been charged as being a fugitive and is being held pending extradition to Minnesota, according to a police report of the incident.
Lewis told the police that he was stabbed with a "pick-like object" early this morning after arguing with someone he didn't know.
-- projo.com staff writers Steve Peoples and Kate Bramson
Posted by Steve Peoples at 3:45 PM
Carcieri unveils new ethics plan
PROVIDENCE -- Governor Carcieri unveiled his plan to reform the state's ethics code during an afternoon press conference at the State House today.
The governor said he plans to deliver his four-point proposal directly to the state Ethics Commission, bypassing the General Assembly, which passed an ethics bill in July that Carcieri chose not to sign. Carcieri's opponent in the race for governor, Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty, was a strong supporter of the first bill.
Carcieri's plan has four key points:
-- Legislators would have to disclose specific sources of income. For example, if they work as attorneys or insurance brokers, the legislators would have to list the names of their clients.
-- Legislators would have to disclose any interest or connection to programs or entities that receive state funding.
-- The definition of "conflict of interest" in the code of ethics would be expanded beyond "direct financial benefit."
-- Legislators would be barred from voting on any measure that would affect business or industry from which the elected official or family member derives income.
Noticeably absent for Carcieri's press conference today was the Ethics Commission Chairman James Lynch Sr., who was supposed to be in attendance, according to the press release distributed at today's event.
"Why he didn't come, you'll have to ask him," Carcieri said.
-- projo.com staff writer Steve Peoples with reports from Journal staff writer Elizabeth Gudrais
Posted by Steve Peoples at 3:10 PM
Davis waives bail in Woonsocket murder case
PROVIDENCE -- The man accused of killing 8-year-old Savannah Smith of Woonsocket waived bail in Superior Court this morning.
Speaking through his lawyer, Joshua A. Davis, 21, agreed to be held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions, where he has been since his arrest on May 7.
This was the second time Davis appeared in court in recent days. Last Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, molesting and murdering Savannah.
At that arraignment, Davis also waived bail.
Asked why Davis appeared twice in one week on the bail matter, Attorney General Spokesman Michael J. Healey said that at the time of his arraignment, Davis had not yet “had a substantive discussion” with his lawyer about whether or not he would request a bail hearing -- something he needed to do before the matter could be resolved.
Davis is due back in court in December.
-- Journal staff writer Cynthia Needham
Posted by Steve Peoples at 3:06 PM
Update: Casino rival Burke becomes Harrah's partner / Photos
Journal photo / Kathy Borchers
Restaurateur Robert Burke unveils the artist's rendering of the proposed Gateway Center during the press conference at his Federal Reserve restaurant.
PROVIDENCE -- Providence restaurant owner Robert I. Burke, formerly a staunch casino opponent, joined forces with Harrah's today, touting the plan to bring a casino to West Warwick as an opportunity to pump tourist dollars into the entire Rhode Island economy.
Today's event at Burke's Federal Reserve restaurant was aimed at publicizing a planned Gateway Center inside the casino that would promote Rhode Island businesses and tourist attractions in other parts of the state.
The center would be owned and operated by Burke, with no association with the state's visitor center, which does not endorse the casino.
The 1,000-square-foot center, to be located on the main floor near the front entrance, would offer casino goers plasma screens, voice-activated kiosks, and touch-screen displays that would link directly to Rhode Island restaurant and other destination Web sites. And Harrah's also plans to offer "reward point cards" on which gamblers earn points that could be used in businesses outside the casino.
Burke previously had testified at General Assembly hearings against the casino plan proposed by the Narragansett Indians in conjunction with Harrah's. He said he changed his mind after a series of discussions with Harrah's and the tribe.
-- projo.com staff writer Steve Peoples
Journal photo / Kathy Borchers
A supporter, left, and an opponent, right, of the proposed casino march outside the Federal Reserve during the press conference.
Today's press conference was briefly interrupted when a group holding signs started chanting outside. The media spilled out to investigate, only to learn the group was actually supporting the casino, chanting "Yes on 1" -- the ballot question that will ask voters in November if they favor amending the state Constitution to allow the casino.
Harrah's officials shooed the group away, leaving only "Harry, the Harrah's Hog," an anti-casino activist dressed in a pink pig outfit who paced in front of the Federal Reserve holding a small Save Our State sign. Save Our State is the name of a group opposed to the casino plan.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 2:31 PM
Stones play Gillette tonight, tickets available
FOXBORO – With just a few more hours before the Rolling Stones perform at Gillette Stadium, we’re still finding tickets available for tonight’s show.
At aceticket.com, the lowest-priced tickets have dropped in the last couple hours. Available tickets this morning ranged from $125 to $250. By 1:45 p.m., the lowest-priced tickets available were $95. However, the most expensive listed on the site were up to $325.
At ticketmaster, full-price tickets at $352.50, with an additional fee of $20.05, have been available online at least since late morning. Student-discount tickets were available for $332.50 with an additional fee of $19.55 shortly before 2 p.m.
The 7 p.m. concert kicks off with an opening act by rapper Kanye West.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 2:03 PM
Judge steps aside from Champlin's Marina case
The controversial Champlin's Marina dispute may be resolved by Superior Court Judge Netti C. Vogel.
Judge Stephen J. Fortunato Jr. recused himself from the case this morning, citing relationships with several people involved in the dispute among the marina, Block Island and the Coastal Resources Management Council.
The CRMC rejected the marina's expansion plans with a 5-5, but the marina is questioning that vote and requesting a hearing on certain ``irregularities'' at CRMC.
Vogel raised a possible conflict with one of the lawyers in the case, and all sides agreed to decide soon whether to continue with her anyway.
-- Journal staff writer Peter Lord
Posted by Jack Perry at 1:21 PM
East Providence exit off 195 to reopen tomorrow
An exit leading to East Providence from Route 195 will reopen tomorrow, 10 days earlier than expected, the state Department of Transportation has announced.
Exit 4 off Route 195 East was temporarily closed on September 8 because of construction work on the Washington Bridge, which is being replaced.
The DOT initially said the exit would be closed until Oct. 1.
Posted by Jack Perry at 12:18 PM
Fidelity launches new research institute
The Fidelity Investments empire has a new satellite: Fidelity Research Institute. It'll issue research reports; reach out to academic experts and think-tanks; and hold an annual conference, Fidelity said.
In its first report, the institute says that many Americans may be limiting their total lifetime income by drawing on Social Security at too early an age.
Fidelity, a mutual fund and investment giant, is based in Boston and has extensive operations in Rhode Island.
Posted by Neil Downing at 12:03 PM
Police release ID of motorcyclist killed in Coventry
Coventry police released a statement this morning identifying the man killed yesterday in a motorcycle accident near Harkney Hill Road.
Robert Lister, 39, formerly of 32 Piligrim Ave., Coventry, was found dead in the woods off the road yesterday at about 8:30 a.m. His motorcycle was nearby.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 11:35 AM
Immigration investigating status of 7 arrested in Charlestown
CHARLESTOWN – Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they are reviewing the legal status of seven people who were temporarily detained by Charlestown Police last week.
“We have not yet made a determination on the immigration status of the individuals,” said Paula Grenier, an ICE spokesperson.
Grenier declined to comment on what information was requested as the matter is ongoing.
The seven Mexican nationals – six men and one woman – were taken into custody Saturday after they failed to provide a valid U.S. identification card when police responded to a loud noise complaint, Sgt. Patrick J. McMahon had said.
McMahon said two of the men showed suspended Rhode Island drivers’ licenses, three showed Mexican-issued international drivers’ licenses that, McMahon said, are not valid IDs. The woman showed a valid Rhode Island ID card, but she had earlier told officers she was in the country illegally, McMahon said.
The seven individuals were later released.
-- Maria Armental, Journal staff writer
Posted by Peter Phipps at 10:56 AM
Nursing home operators plead not guilty / Photo
Journal photo / Mary Murphy
John Montecalvo, left, and Antonio Giordano appear in Providence Superior Court this morning.
PROVIDENCE -- Former nursing home operator Antonio L. Giordano and his chief financial officer John J. Montecalvo pleaded not guilty this morning to state charges of embezzlement, conspiracy, money laundering and Medicaid fraud.
Their arraignments in Superior Court came just five days after the two men were sentenced in federal court on charges of diverting more than $780,000 from three nursing homes to a company run by Giordano’s daughters.
In the federal case, Giordano was sentenced to serve 2½ years in prison -- 6 months more than the prosecution recommended -- and Montecalvo was sentenced to serve two years. They are to report to officials of the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Oct. 13.
But they will have to be brought back in December for the next court date on the state charges.
In the state case, Giordano, 62, of 229 Potter Rd., North Kingstown, and Montecalvo, 67, of 181 Cedar Hollow Rd, South Kingstown, each face 45 counts related to alleged crimes committed during the operation of the Hillside Health Center in Providence. Montecalvo is additionally named in 10 counts of patient neglect.
-- Journal staff writer Tom Mooney
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:50 AM
Man stabbed by ice pick walks into fire station for help
PROVIDENCE – A 30-year-old man was stabbed early this morning in the face, neck and chest with an ice pick.
The man walked into the Broad Street fire station, located at 847 Broad St., seeking help at 1:51 a.m. and was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, according to James Taylor, chief of communications for the Providence Fire Department.
The man’s name and condition are not available at this time.
Eight firefighters, all certified as emergency medical technicians, were in the station in the Elmwood neighborhood when the man came in looking for help, Taylor said. It’s not unusual, he said, for someone with injuries who is near a fire station to seek help there.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 10:39 AM
Update: Finalists unveiled in waterfront design contest
PROVIDENCE -- Now's your chance to check out the two finalists named this morning in a competition to design a waterfront park on eight acres of land that will become available when Route 195 is relocated.
Mayor David N. Cicilline revealed the top two projects in the Waterfront Design Competition this morning at Roger Williams Park Casino.
Renderings of both designs are now available on the city's Web site.
Cicilline kicked off the competition in April and created an 11-member selection committee. The identity of the winning design team will not be known until the winner is announced Oct. 30.
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:17 AM
Intralot denies report of Lottomatica deal
Intralot SA, the Athens-based competitor of GTECH Holdings Corp. for lottery contracts worldwide, this morning denied reports it would be sold to Lottomatica, the Rome-based company that recently acquired GTECH.
The report in Imerisia, a newspaper published in Athens, swept through the overseas financial markets and boosted Intralot's stock price on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Intralot put out a statement that said, ``Intralot denies and characterizes as untrue'' the report concerning an acquisition by Lottomatica or GTECH.
``We have not been speaking to GTECH for any sale of Intralot,'' said Constantine Antonopoulos, chief executive officer of Intralot.
Lottomatica completed the acquisition of West Greenwich-based GTECH on Aug. 29 for $4.8 billion.
Posted by at 7:38 AM
Fire at a house in E. Providence
EAST PROVIDENCE – Firefighters this morning are at a house fire at 77 Burnside Ave., but the fire is under control.
The cause of the fire, which broke out around 6 a.m., is under investigation, but more details are not available, Fire Lt. Charles Swenson said this morning.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:28 AM
Sunny today with a high around 76 degrees
PROVIDENCE – Looks like another nice day, with the mostly cloudy skies turning to mostly sunny later today.
Expect a high of 76 today and a low around 51 tonight.
There’s no rain in the forecast for today.
For those of you wondering how much rain fell last night, the National Weather Service said .72 inches fell at T.F. Green Airport overnight, the official weather spot for the area.
That’s right in the range of what was predicted at this time yesterday. While it may seem like quite a bit of rain, it’s a normal range for this time of year, as summer turns to fall, meteorologist Bill Simpson said this morning.
Get the latest conditions and forecasts from projo.com.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:03 AM
Celona back on stand for 6th day
PROVIDENCE -- A day after shouting at a lawyer during his cross-examination, former state Senator John Celona returns to the witness stand this morning for the sixth day.
This morning in U.S. District Court, the lawyer for former Village at Elmhhurst partner Peter J. Sangermano, will have a crack at Celona, the key prosecution witness in the federal corruption case against Sangermano, Robert Urciuoli, Roger Williams Hospital's former president, as well as former hospital vice president Frances P. Driscoll.
Yesterday, intense questioning from Driscoll's lawyer prompted an angry outburst from Celona. (See today's Journal story.)
After Sangermano’s lawyer questions Celona this morning, the government expects to move on to its next witnesses. They are James McGuirk, the lawyer who was involved in seeking an Ethics Commission opinion regarding Celona’s job, and Richard E. Gamache, who was the administrator of Elmhurst Extended Care, the hospital-owned nursing home.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 7:00 AM