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First Circuit Hears Appeal in Lawyer Robert Ciresi's Bribery Case

By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on February 17, 2012 3:06 PM

The First Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments last week in the bribery and extortion case of attorney Robert S. Ciresi.

Ciresi, a former North Providence town attorney, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison last year for his role in facilitating bribes for three former North Providence councilmen, who eventually pleaded guilty to their crimes. Ciresi was the only one to proceed to trial, where he was convicted of conspiracy, bribery and Hobbs Act extortion last April.

Ciresi had previously lost an appeal before the First Circuit asking the court to grant him bail pending a decision by a three-judge panel on his request for a new trial. The First Circuit denied the request last September. Ciresi has been in a federal prison in New Jersey since losing his appeal.

Ciresi is probably hoping for a more favorable decision by the First Circuit this time. During oral arguments before the three-judge panel, Ciresi's attorney reportedly argued that the disgraced lawyer's trial was tarnished when recorded statements of his alleged co-conspirators were admitted without any opportunity to cross-examine one of the recorded councilmen, John Zambarano, which violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment.

Ciresi's attorney went on to further state that the recordings "fatally compromised" the jury's ability to fairly assess the evidence.

If the First Circuit doesn't grant Robert Ciresi a new trial, his punishment could "potentially [be] a death sentence," according to his attorney, given the fact that he is already 78-years-old.

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