Corruption

The Death of Buddy Cianci: Two-Time Mayor of Providence, Two-Time Convicted Felon

One powerful man's corruption and brutality

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The AP would eventually report that the schoolchildren didn't actually see much money from the sauce sales. Naturally.

Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr. has died at age 74. A fixture in Rhode Island politics since he first became mayor of Providence in 1975, Cianci is famous—or infamous—in the rest of the country for two incidents, which between then sum up the toupee-wearing thug's style of personal and public corruption and brutality.

The first came in 1983, when Cianci invited a contractor named Raymond DeLeo to his home. After a cop frisked DeLeo, the mayor held the man captive for hours, hitting him, spitting on him, trying to stick a cigarette in his eye, assaulting him with an ashtray and a fireplace log, and telling him that if he hit back everyone present would swear that DeLeo struck first. Throughout the night, the mayor accused the contractor of having an affair with Cianci's estranged wife, demanding that his prisoner "sign a confession that he had been sleeping with Sheila and an agreement that DeLeo would pay Cianci $500,000," the Providence Journal later reported. Because of that evening, the mayor was charged with assault, kidnapping, and attempted extortion; when he went on trial in early 1984, he pled no contest and resigned from office.

In 1990, Cianci was elected mayor again. That paved the way for the second infamous incident: In 2001, he was indicted on a host of corruption charges.

Here's how the Boston Globe's obit describes his second term as mayor:

The second coming of Cianci coincided with "Providence renaissance."

Rivers that had run through underground culverts were reclaimed. Ornate walkways and bridges graced the rivers. Providence landed the largest mall in the region. People flocked to a downtown that just decades ago had been a dangerous, seamy zone. The hugely popular WaterFire display lighted up the rivers with floating braziers of crackling, burning cedar.

Cianci soaked up the notoriety. He marketed his own line of pasta sauce and became a fixture on the national "Imus in the Morning" radio show.

But beneath the glitter, the city was rotting. Buddy's Providence was a town for sale, federal prosecutors said, where even routine dealings with City Hall—such as applying for jobs or bidding on contracts—meant greasing a few palms.

Cianci insisted he was innocent. He was eventually convicted on one count of racketeering conspiracy, resigned again, and served half a decade behind bars. He made another run at the mayor's office after he got out of jail, but this time the voters said no.

The Globe goes on to quote a line from Cianci's 2011 memoir, Politics and Pasta: How I Prosecuted Mobsters, Rebuilt a Dying City, Dined with Sinatra, Spent Five Years in a Federally Funded Gated Community, and Lived to Tell the Tale. "I used my public power for personal reasons," he wrote. "I admit it. It probably wasn't the right thing to do, but it certainly felt good." He was talking about the petty favors he used his office to extract from people, but the line applies to a lot more of his career than just that. They should put it on his tombstone.

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  1. RIP, Buddy.

    1. I’m not your buddy, guy.

    2. I’m not your bitch, buddy.

      1. I’m not your bitch, ho!

  2. “It probably wasn’t the right thing to do, but it certainly felt good.”

    Dying, you mean?

  3. Just a day or two after his release from Club Fed, Buddy was back on the air as an Imus guest. Boy, was he loaded for bear that day. He had zinger after zinger ready for Imus that morning.

  4. “They’re not gonna stop having the Mafia in Providence.”

  5. This guy sounds like he was up in the Marion Barry levels of corruption and Teflon coating.

    1. Did he get drugs off the streets like Marion?

      1. Marion personally got more drugs off the street than any politician. Fact.

  6. Because of that evening, the mayor was charged with assault, kidnapping, and attempted extortion;

    What about his accomplices? Sounds like there was a cop and maybe others there for this. Were they charged with anything?

  7. I’m making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I’m my own boss. This is what I do,

    ——————— http://www.richi8.com

  8. “…He made another run at the mayor’s office after he got out of jail, but this time the voters said no….”

    Well, it’s a low bar, but at least there’s some level at which voters will say “no”.

  9. Let me ask a question (and I’m not accusing anyone here of it). Why the hell do people romanticize bastards like this? The guy was everything that was wrong with government. Decent people should revile him by orders of magnitude more than they do drug dealers or prostitutes. But they don’t. You hear people talk about him, and I’d bet more than half talk like there’s something clever or admirable about him.

    1. I was just thinking about this. With my tongue firmly (but not completely) in cheek, I think I would rather have good, old fashioned corruption like this, than the monstrous, “Brazil” like bureaucracies that most of our city, state, and of course, Federal governments are.

      During this guy’s time, when you needed your permit, you paid him off, along with greasing a few palms down at the local office, and bingo! You are in business.
      Nowadays, there is no one to pay off. There just seems to be endless levels of bureaucratic incompetence.

    2. As someone who grew up in Providence in the 80s and early 90s, I will attempt to offer an explanation for this.

      Think of someone like Bill Clinton, with a natural folksy down-to-earth charm. Now imagine him not as president, but as mayor in a city the size of Providence. Instead of communicating through TV, this guy was able to be *everywhere* and meet *everyone*. Nearly every city little league tournament, high school basketball or football game, every wedding, every funeral. He was there, smiling, hand-shaking, or offering condolences as the need may be. The nickname “Buddy” was hard earned. He was everyone’s buddy.

      I think it’s possible to admire that talent and charm without thinking he is an admirable person. My mom, for example, loved seeing him work his magic, and even up until yesterday, listened to his radio show from 3-6pm (he apparently was rushed to the hospital right after it aired). But she never voted for him, because he was a thug and a cheat, and thoroughly dishonest. (I was too young to vote at the time)

      I remember liking the idea of Buddy, but he probably in some way helped me to find my way to libertarianism.

  10. the mayor was charged with assault, kidnapping, and attempted extortion; when he went on trial in early 1984, he pled no contest and resigned from office.

    In 1990, Cianci was elected mayor again.

    Wait, what happened between 1984 and 1990?

  11. Cianci soaked up the notoriety. He marketed his own line of pasta sauce and became a fixture on the national “Imus in the Morning” radio show.

    “He’d appreciate it if you’d eat his pasta sauce and vote him in a second term!”

  12. I hope his fucken sauce was worth it.

    1. It was actually good sauce.

  13. the toupee-wearing thug

    Great, another Trump post…

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