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Television reporter released early from home confinement

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    News Media Update         RHODE ISLAND         Confidentiality/Privilege         April 12, 2005    

Television reporter released early from home confinement

  • Two months before his sentence was set to end, television reporter Jim Taricani won freedom from home confinement for refusing to identify a confidential source.

April 12, 2005 — The court battle between federal prosecutors and a television reporter Jim Taricani is over after U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres granted a request last week to cut short his six-month home confinement sentence by two months.

Taricani is expected to return to work Wednesday at WJAR television in Providence, R.I. Torres signed an order for early release Wednesday, but the order did not take effect until Saturday. Taricani had been confined to his home since Dec. 9 when Torres sentenced him for criminal contempt-of-court for refusing to reveal the confidential source of a videotape showing a Providence official taking a bribe from an FBI informant.

In a one-page order, Torres noted that “the supervising probation officer reports that Mr. Taricani has fully complied with all conditions and the probation officer recommends that his petition be granted,” The Providence Journal reported. The order also said that special prosecutor Mark DeSisto did not object to Taricani’s early release, the paper reported.

During Taricani’s confinement, he was not allowed to leave the house, except for doctor’s appointments. He was not allowed to use the Internet or given interviews, and he could receive visitors for only a few hours each day.

Taricani’s case began after WJAR in February 2001 aired a portion of the videotape showing Providence city official Frank E. Corrente accepting a bribe from an undercover FBI informant. The tape was sealed evidence in an FBI investigation into corruption by Providence officials, including former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr., who along with Corrente was later convicted.

Taricani was subpoenaed, but refused to reveal his source and was found in civil contempt of court. After a failed appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston (1st Cir.), NBC, WJAR’s network, paid $85,000 in fines, which failed to coerce Taricani to testify.

In November, Taricani was found in criminal contempt of court and a month later, was sentence to six months home confinement.

(In re special proceedings; Media Counsel: Jonathan Albano, Boston)KM

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