(AP) An attorney who leaked a secret FBI tape to a television reporter convicted for refusing to divulge the source was charged Monday with perjury and criminal contempt of court, prosecutors said.
Joseph Bevilacqua Jr. has agreed to plead guilty to violating a court order not to release the tape, then lying about it under oath, U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente said.
Bevilacqua gave the tape, which showed a mayoral aide accepting a bribe, to reporter Jim Taricani. The surveillance video was part of an investigation into widespread corruption in Providence government, and a judge had prohibited attorneys, investigators, and defendants from releasing any tapes in the probe.
No date has been set for a hearing for Bevilacqua to enter the plea. The maximum sentence for perjury is five years. The contempt charge carries no specific statutory maximum, Corrente said. Prosecutors wouldn’t say what they are going to recommend.
Bevilacqua and his attorney did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.
The footage, aired in 2001 on NBC affiliate WJAR-TV, showed a top aide to former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr. taking a bribe. Cianci and the aide, Frank Corrente, were convicted in 2002 on various corruption charges and are serving time in federal prison. Frank Corrente is not related to Robert Corrente, the U.S. attorney.
Bevilacqua admitted under oath in November that he was Taricani’s source, capping a more than three-year investigation by a special prosecutor into who leaked the tape.
Bevilacqua has said he never asked Taricani to keep his name secret, which Taricani disputes. The newsman, who was found in criminal contempt for refusing to reveal his source, was released April 9 after four months of home confinement.
Bevilacqua, who represented the city tax assessor in the corruption investigation, said he signed a confidentiality waiver in 2002 that let Taricani disclose his identity and urged Taricani to do so several times from then until the morning of his conviction Nov. 18.
Taricani said he asked Bevilacqua to come forward, but he repeatedly refused. Taricani called Bevilacqua’s claim that he did not request confidentiality “false and absurd,” according to a court affidavit Taricani filed.
Taricani also has said he believed Bevilacqua’s confidentiality waiver was forced, and Bevilacqua never wanted his identity disclosed.