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Whistleblower in North Providence on stand in developer's trial says he's not out for profit


PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — The whistleblower who exposed a bribery scheme in North Providence testified on Thursday that he wrote a manuscript about his experiences titled: "Wired: How I took down a ruthless government in one of America's most corrupt towns."

Paul Caranci, a former North Providence town councilman and current deputy secretary of state, took the stand in the trial of prominent developer Richard Baccari, who is accused of paying a $50,000 bribe to several councilmen to approve a zoning change for a supermarket development.

Baccari and his company, Churchill & Banks, have pleaded not guilty to one count each of bribery and conspiracy. Three former councilmen, John Zambarano, Raymond Douglas III and Joseph Burchfield, pleaded guilty in 2011 to charges of conspiracy, extortion and bribery. Robert Ciresi, a lawyer who worked for Baccari, was charged with being the middleman and was convicted at trial of conspiracy, bribery and extortion. All four are in prison.

Caranci alerted the FBI to the scheme and agreed to wear a wire.

He spent much of his testimony on Wednesday and Thursday listening to clips of recorded conversations with Zambarano, who recounted how the scheme came together and told Caranci about what he said were conversations he had with Baccari and his then-lawyer, Ciresi. Baccari and Ciresi are never on the recordings themselves.

On the recordings, Zambarano says Baccari told him if he delivered four votes to approve the zoning change, Baccari would give him $25,000. Prosecutors say the amount of the bribe ultimately doubled to $50,000.

Baccari's lawyer, Anthony Cardinale, has described Zambarano as a "pathological liar" and on Thursday pointed out that Zambarano lied to Caranci on the tapes about how much bribe money he was receiving.

"There was no such thing as honor among thieves," Cardinale said.

"No, sir," Caranci replied.

The defense lawyer also zeroed in on Caranci's manuscript, which Caranci said was based on journals he kept to deal with stress while he worked with the FBI — even though the FBI had asked him not to keep notes about what happened.

Cardinale asked him if he planned to include Baccari's trial in the manuscript, and Caranci said he may. Cardinale previously told the jury that Baccari's conviction would make "the perfect ending" to Caranci's book.

Cardinale also questioned whether Caranci hoped to profit from publication of his book, but Caranci said that was not his goal.

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