Judge Grants R.I. Reporter's Request for Early Release

By: (AP) A federal judge on Wednesday granted a television reporter early release from the home-confinement sentence he was serving for failing to disclose the source of a videotape that showed a city official taking a cash bribe.

Jim Taricani, 55, is expected to be released Saturday, two months earlier than his original release date. He was originally scheduled to be released in June.

Taricani sought early release, and U.S. District Court Judge Ernest Torres found that Taricani had complied with all the conditions of the home confinement, which included a ban on him working, giving media interviews, or using the Internet.

Prosecutors also did not object to releasing him early. The order frees Taricani from probation or any further court supervision.

Taricani, who works for the NBC affiliate WJAR-TV, has been confined to his home since Dec. 9. He was given a six-month sentence for failing to disclose the source of the video.

Taricani, who is a heart transplant recipient and suffers from a variety of medical ailments, cannot speak to the media until his release on Saturday.

"We are very relieved, very happy," said Taricani's wife, Laurie White. She said her husband's health is stable, and he is looking forward to walking and enjoying outside air.

His TV station said in a statement that it was pleased by the ruling and looked forward to Taricani's return. White said she expected her husband to be back at work as early as next week, at least on a part-time basis.

Taricani's lawyer, Deming Sherman, referred all calls to the station.

Six days after Taricani was found guilty, his source, defense lawyer Joseph Bevilacqua Jr., admitted that he had given Taricani the tape. Bevilacqua had previously denied under oath that he had been Taricani's source and is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

Taricani is among a small but growing number of reporters who have become ensnared in the legal system for defying judicial demands to disclose where they got information. At least 16 reporters and 14 news organizations are involved in legal fights in courthouses from New York and Washington to San Francisco.


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