R.I. Lawyer Who Leaked Tape to TV Reporter Taricani Pleads Guilty

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(AP) A defense attorney pleaded guilty to contempt and perjury Friday for leaking an FBI surveillance video to a TV reporter, who later served four months under house arrest for refusing to identify his source.

Joseph Bevilacqua Jr., 55, could get up to five years in prison for perjury. The contempt charge carries no specific maximum. Sentencing was set for Aug. 18.

The video, which showed a mayoral aide taking a bribe, was part of a City Hall corruption investigation that eventually sent Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr. and the aide to prison. A judge had barred anyone connected to the case from releasing any tapes.
Bevilacqua, who represented the city tax assessor in the corruption investigation, gave the tape to WJAR reporter Jim Taricani, who aired it in 2001 on the NBC affiliate. The lawyer later lied under oath about supplying the video.

The newsman was found in contempt for refusing to say who gave him the tape. He was released from house arrest April 9.

A special prosecutor investigated the leak for more than three years before Bevilacqua admitted under oath in November that he was Taricani’s source.

Bevilacqua could also be disbarred.

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