« September 20, 2006 |
| September 22, 2006 »
September 21, 2006
Hospital lawyer says he wasn't told of Celona's legislative role
PROVIDENCE -- A lawyer for Roger Williams Medical Center today testified he was never told state Sen. John A. Celona would look after the hospital’s legislative interests while working as a consultant for the hospital.
Lawyer James R. McGuirk spent the entire day as the sole witness in the corruption trial of former Roger Williams president Robert A. Urciuoli, former hospital vice president Frances P. Driscoll and Peter J. Sangermano, a partner with the hospital in The Village at Elmhurst assisted-living center.
They are accused of stealing the honest services of Celona as a public official and of masking his true work as a legislative operative by putting him on the payroll at The Village of Elmhurst. Celona, now a 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.
On the witness stand, McGuirk detailed his role in writing Celona’s consulting contract and seeking a state Ethics Commission opinion about what matters the senator was prohibited from handling while working as a consultant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Luis M. Matos asked McGuirk who he believed Celona was working for, based on what Urciuoli and Driscoll had told him. “The Village at Elmhurst,” McGuirk said.
Matos asked McGuirk if he was told Celona was working on legislative issues of interest to the hospital. “No,” McGuirk said.
Matos asked McGuirk if he was told Celona was working “to kill” a bill, the Hospital Conversion Act, which would have scuttled the hospital’s proposed merger with an out-of-state hospital chain, Columbia HCA. McGuirk said, “No.”
Matos asked McGuirk if he was told Celona was working on legislation affecting whether Alzheimer’s units could be placed at assisted-living centers. Again, McGuirk said, “No.”
-- Journal staff writer Edward Fitzpatrick
Posted by Steve Peoples at 6:50 PM
Lynch responds to Judge Darigan's criticism
Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch issued a statement late this afternoon responding to criticism today by Superior Court Judge Francis J. Darigan Jr., who blasted the Attorney General's Office for leaking the terms of the Derderians' sentences to the press before the families of Station fire victims had been notified.
"I deeply respect Judge Darigan as a jurist and as a human being. He has handled the cases arising from The Station nightclub fire in an extremely fair and professional manner," Lynch said.
"However well-intentioned the plans were to notify the families of those who perished in the fire, that process represented an unprecedented challenge, particularly coming as it did two weeks prior to the start of Michael Derderian's trial," he continued.
"From the moment I learned of the terms of the sentence the judge planned to impose, I knew that the victims would be deeply hurt, regardless of how they heard the news. While each of us had the victims' best interests in mind in sending individual letters, the reality is that the vast majority of people would still learn of the Court's intentions through the news media."
"I am concerned, as he is, that the process did not work as well as we had hoped, and I will, in time, find out why. My focus at this time, however, is on those who lost loved ones, family members, and friends in the fire at The Station, and seeing them through the days ahead," he concluded.
Lynch met one on one earlier this afternoon with members of the press to explain his position.
The two brothers and Station nightclub co-owners were facing manslaughter charges stemming from the deaths of 100 people killed in the February 2003 blaze.
-- projo.com staff writer Steve Peoples
Lynch says Derderian sentence not his idea
Posted 3:21 p.m.
PROVIDENCE -- In a private interview this afternoon with The Journal, Attorney General Patrick Lynch maintained his insistence that he objected to the plea bargain announced yesterday that will send Michael Derderian to prison for four years and spare his brother, Jeffrey, from serving any time at all.
Despite reports from the Derderians' attorney to the contrary, Lynch said his office never made a bona fide offer.
Michael Derderian's attorney Kathleen Hagerty yesterday provided The Journal a handwritten note listing the terms of the plea bargain written by an assistant attorney general.
Lynch today said the document merely contained notes from conversations between the parties. The numbers on the note were suggested by the defense, Lynch said, not the prosecution.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Mark Arsenault
Posted by Steve Peoples at 5:13 PM
Update: Politicians react to Derderians' plea
PROVIDENCE -- Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty, the Democratic candidate for governor, issued a statement this afternoon criticizing the outcome of Michael and Jeffrey Derderian's court cases.
"The proposed sentence seems inadequate considering the magnitude of the tragedy," Fogarty said. "Cleary, justice calls for a more severe penalty."
The man running against Attorney General Patrick Lynch in November issued a tempered statement this morning about the Derderians' plea bargain, averting their trials in the high-profile The Station fire case.
Republican J. William W. Harsch has been virtually silent on the case until now.
"My campaign has avoided commenting on The Station nightclub fire incident out of respect for the victims and out of respect for the process of law," Harsch said in a statement. "However, at this stage in the process, like many other Rhode Islanders, I can say that I do not have the sense that justice was served, but out of respect for the process of law and victims of their families, will refrain from further comment or judgment until more is known and more is understood.”
Lynch maintains that he opposed the terms, but Michael Derderian's attorney said a prosecutor under Lynch proposed the plea arrangement.
Michael Derderian would receive four years in prison, while his brother, Jeffrey, Station nightclub co-owner, would get no jail time. Read more about the plea, which has not yet been formalized in court.
-- projo.com staff writer Steve Peoples
Posted by Steve Peoples at 3:22 PM
Update: Judge says Station plea will spare R.I. trauma of trial
WARWICK -- Superior Court Associate Justice Francis J. Darigan said this afternoon that he decided to accept a plea in The Station nightclub fire case to spare victims' families and the state the trauma of criminal trials.
Darigan also acknowledged that he decided to accept the pleas from club co-owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and impose the sentences over the objection of the state Attorney General's Office.
The Derderian brothers each have agreed to plead no contest to 100 involuntary manslaughter charges, effectively ending the criminal prosecution against them. The charges represented the 100 who died in the Feb. 20, 2003, blaze, the worst in the state's history.
In exchange for their pleas, Darigan has agreed to a sentence of no jail time for Jeffrey Derderian and four years to serve in prison for Michael Derderian.
The news of the deal, which has not yet been accepted in court, came in a letter to victims' families released yesterday by Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch.
In a followup address to reporters this afternoon at the Kent County Courthouse, Darigan said a trial would "serve to further traumatize and victimize" not only the families of the victims but the entire state.
Darigan addressed the reporters for 25 minutes, reading from a letter he said he sent last night to families of the victims and also reading from a statement.
He also criticized the Attorney General's Office for what he called leaking news of the agreement to the press yesterday, calling it unethical.
Darigan's address is being carried now on Court TV, Channel 71 on Cox Cable in Rhode Island.
-- projo.com staff writer Steve Peoples
In the letter Darigan sent to the victims’ families, he spoke about the sentences for the brothers.
“The difference in the sentences between the two defendants reflects their respective involvement with regard to the purchase and installation of the foam in question,” Darigan wrote. “It is my belief for the reasons stated above that the sentences I will impose are reasonably appropriate in light of all of the facts and circumstances as I understand them.”
The fire at the club started after the band Great White's pyrotechnics ignited foam used as soundproofing around the stage.
Darigan then read from a prepared statement, in which he criticized the way the plea agreement became public.
“The premature leak of the attorney general’s letter to the media by an anonymous source was unethical, reprehensible, devoid of any consideration for the victims of this tragedy and totally abrogated an agreement reached after weeks of discussion between the parties in this case,” he said. “This court sincerely regrets – beyond the court’s ability to articulate – the shock, anger, disbelief and sense of betrayal some of the families must feel because of the despicable action taken by the anonymous source within the Attorney General’s Office.”
Darigan said he would like the media to focus less on the back-and-forth between the Attorney General’s Office and the court and more on the merits of the plea agreement.
Posted by Jack Perry at 2:10 PM
CVS stock dives after Wal-Mart announcement
The prospect of heightened competition from Wal-Mart sent shares of CVS Corp. into a dive today.
The drugstore chain's stock is down more than 8 percent in midday training after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this morning announced a plan to sell generic prescription drugs at deep discounts.
The Arkansas-based retail giant said it will cut prices on 291 generics to as low as $4 per prescription in a pilot program beginning in Florida.
Shortly before 1:30 p.m., shares of Woonsocket-based CVS stood at $32.43, down $3 from yesterday's close.
Stock in Walgreen Co. and Rite-Aid Corp. also took a hit on the Wal-Mart news, each falling more than 6 percent.
Posted by at 1:32 PM
Wise recalls nacho chips
Wise Foods is recalling 31,500 cases of nacho chips distributed on the East Coast that might contain a soy ingredient.
The company said customers sensitive to soy should not eat the chips. "No illnesses have been reported to date, " the company says.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 1:27 PM
Coventry man sentenced in tax case
A Coventry man has been sentenced for filing a false federal income-tax return after he failed to report income he had earned from an Internet-based debt-elimination scheme. Edward Dacey must serve five months of home confinement and two years of probation, Senior U.S. District Judge George C. Smith ruled yesterday in Columbus, Ohio. According to court documents and testimony, Dacey was employed at Ridgewood Holdings, a business trust in Rhode Island. In 2004, Ridgewood marketed a debt elimination service over the Internet for an Ohio company. Dacey admitted that he did not report, on his return for 2004, about $122,000 in income that he received from Ridgewood in connection with the service. The IRS's Criminal Investigation unit investigated the case.
Posted by Neil Downing at 1:21 PM
Some Rhode Island taxpayers face a deadline
A deadline looms for nearly 37,000 Rhode Island taxpayers. These people sidestepped the usual mid-April deadline for filing federal income-tax returns. They did so by obtaining automatic six-month extensions. As a result, their new filing deadline is just around the corner, on Oct. 16. (That's also the deadline for filing Rhode Island income-tax returns that are on extension.) The Internal Revenue Service issued a reminder today about the deadline. The IRS also let taxpayers know that they may be eligible to file their returns at no charge, through the IRS's Free File program.
Posted by Neil Downing at 12:26 PM
Lynch reiterates his opposition to Station plea deal
Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch issued a statement late this morning, again saying he doesn't approve a plea agreement reached in The Station fire case.
Lynch made similar comments yesterday in a letter to victims' family members.
"Starting last night and continuing through this morning, I have been making
calls to inform the families of those who perished in The Station fire, and
the survivors, of the decision arrived at by Superior Court Associate
Justice Francis J. Darigan Jr. regarding the State's cases against Michael
Derderian and Jeffrey Derderian. All of my efforts are focused on reaching,
and reaching out to, as many of the victims and survivors as possible during
this most difficult time. This is my priority and my obligation.
"My intention was always to prosecute these two criminal cases at trial. I
do not agree with this disposition. I have not agreed to this disposition.
It disappoints me very much. I will share my views about it, and make myself
accessible to the news media, this afternoon."
Jeffrey and Michael Derderian have agreed to plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter charges, effectively ending the criminal prosecution against them.
In exchange for their pleas, Judge Francis J. Darigan Jr. has agreed to a sentence of no jail time for Jeffrey Derderian and four years to serve in prison for Michael Derderian.
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:58 AM
A majority of R.I. schools are "high performing"
Sixty-two percent of Rhode Island’s elementary and middle schools are considered high performing in the latest round of school-performance classifications, and 71 percent of the state’s schools met all targets in the federal education law No Child Left Behind.
The "high-performing" schools. The school that have made insufficient progress.
A total of 66 schools also have been classified as Regents’ Commended Schools, a higher number than ever before, said James A. DiPrete, chairman of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education.
The classifications, released by Governor Carcieri and the state Department of Education this morning, are based on the results of the state tests in math, reading and writing administered last October. About 72,000 students in grades 3 through 8 took the math and reading tests; 5th and 8th graders took the writing test. Statewide, about 50 percent of students tested proficient in math and about 60 percent in reading. Fifty-one percent were proficient in writing.
Thirty-eight schools, 24 of them in Providence and all of them in urban settings, were listed as not making adequate yearly progress. Last month, the education department announced that 23 elementary and middle schools had missed targets for multiple years and will face some form of sanction. Yesterday, the department reported that 54 schools missed at least one target for the first time; they are in danger of sanctions under NCLB if they miss targets again next year.
The classifications are the first based on the new state assessments developed in partnership with New Hampshire and Vermont through the New England Common Assessment Program.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 11:28 AM
Lynch to meet with media to discuss Station plea
In the wake of the plea agreement reached in The Station nightclub fire case, Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch will be available to meet with the media this afternoon, according to a short statement issued this morning by his spokesman, Michael J. Healey.
“The Attorney General is continuing to make calls this morning to the victims' families and the survivors of the fire. He will be available to meet with the news media this afternoon,” the statement reads. “The Public Information Office will issue an advisory about the press availability beforehand.”
Posted by Kate Bramson at 10:56 AM
Sun will chase away morning's chill
PROVIDENCE – It’s rather chilly this morning, but the sun should be shining all day.
Expect a high near 65 – and good sleeping weather tonight with a low around 45.
Tomorrow, too, should be mostly sunny, with a high near 68.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Rhode Island and parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts for today because of a frost advisory in parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Tomorrow, as Hurricane Helene moves northward in the Atlantic, a high-surf advisory in our region may be required for the afternoon through Saturday, with seas building to seven feet and dangerous rip currents developing.
Get the latest conditions and forecasts from projo.com.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:02 AM
Police dedicate substation at Rising Sun Mills / Photo
Providence Police officer Patty Nichols, on horse Holigan, and others applaud during the press conference at the new District 5 station in Olneyville at 166 Valley St., named the Sgt. Steven M. Shaw Neighborhood Station.
Journal photo / Kathy Borchers
PROVIDENCE -- The Providence Police Department dedicated a new neighborhood police station with a ribbon cutting this morning at Rising Sun Mills, 166 Valley Street.
Mayor David N. Cicilline and Police Chief Dean Esserman attended, along with owners of Rising Sun Mills Corporation.
The station is named for Sgt. Steven M. Shaw, a Providence police sergeant who died in the line of duty.
Lt. Robert T. Lepre will be commander of the District 5 station.
Rising Sun Mills is a former factory that has been turned into loft apartments and offices.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM