Ciresi Appeals Conspiracy Charges Under Confrontation Clause

By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 25, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Disgraced North Providence attorney Robert Ciresi is appealing to the First Circuit Court of Appeals for a new trial, and bail pending the decision, one week before he reports to federal prison.

In April, a federal jury convicted Ciresi of conspiracy, bribery, and Hobbs Acts extortion in a corruption and kickback scheme that implicated three North Providence town councilmen. The three councilmen pleaded guilty and are in prison. Ciresi, who had previously served as a North Providence Town Solicitor and Councilman, was the only one to proceed to trial.

While federal sentencing guidelines outlined a minimum sentence of 97 months in a case like Ciresi's, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi only gave Ciresi 63 months in prison. His attorney, who pushed for home confinement in lieu of federal prison, claims that the punishment is "potentially a death sentence" because Ciresi is already 77, reports WPRI.

In his appeal, Ciresi is contesting his conspiracy conviction, arguing that the prosecutors did not offer evidence that he participated in a shakedown involving a condo development project. The government offered a series of recordings to support the charge, but Ciresi says that the tapes "constituted highly incriminating narratives of purely past events by an alleged coconspirator who was unavailable to be confronted at trial about his inculpatory statements regarding Ciresi."

Ciresi claims that admitting the tapes infringed on his rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment because former town councilman John Zambarano, who was recorded on the tapes, was not available at trial for cross-examination.

What do you think? Was the evidence of the conspiracy charges properly admitted, or did the tapes violate Ciresi's rights? Should the First Circuit Court of Appeals grant Robert Ciresi a new trial?

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