CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

The Prince of Providence

Buddy Cianci waves to the crowd during a parade on Atwells Avenue. In 2014, seven years after getting out of prison, he mounted his final campaign for mayor. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Glenn Osmundson.

Buddy Cianci waves to the crowd during a parade on Atwells Avenue. In 2014, seven years after getting out of prison, he mounted his final campaign for mayor. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Glenn Osmundson.

Buddy Cianci was once a crusading prosecutor who took on the mob. Now, he’s behind bars. For the mayor of any other city, this would be the end of the road. But Buddy isn’t any other mayor. And Providence isn’t any other city.

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OLD ENEMIES, NEW Friends

Razor wire surrounds a courtyard at Fort Dix federal prison in New Jersey. There, Buddy Cianci served a prison sentence of four years and five months. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Gretchen Ertl.

Razor wire surrounds a courtyard at Fort Dix federal prison in New Jersey. There, Buddy Cianci served a prison sentence of four years and five months. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Gretchen Ertl.

Boy, this guy doesn’t belong here. Too much talent, wasted in a box.
— Joe Paolino, on Buddy Cianci's prison stay
Mayor Buddy Cianci and City Council President Joseph R. Paolino Jr. at a news conference in 1984. After Buddy's 1984 resignation, Paolino succeeded him as mayor. The two were political rivals for most of their careers, but they later become friends. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

Mayor Buddy Cianci and City Council President Joseph R. Paolino Jr. at a news conference in 1984. After Buddy's 1984 resignation, Paolino succeeded him as mayor. The two were political rivals for most of their careers, but they later become friends. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.


Buddy returns to his mistress

Reporters camp out in front of the Old Canteen restaurant on Atwells Avenue on July 27, 2007, waiting for former mayor Buddy Cianci to leave following lunch on his first official day of freedom. Buddy's electronic monitoring device was removed that morning. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bill Murphy.

Reporters camp out in front of the Old Canteen restaurant on Atwells Avenue on July 27, 2007, waiting for former mayor Buddy Cianci to leave following lunch on his first official day of freedom. Buddy's electronic monitoring device was removed that morning. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bill Murphy.

Uncharacteristically, Buddy avoided the media as he escaped from the Old Canteen restaurant. Reporters asked his lawyer whether Buddy was a changed man after his prison stay. Courtesy of Tim White.

It’s just one name. It’s Cher, it’s Ringo. All you have to do is say, ‘Buddy.’
— Ron St. Pierre
Buddy prepares for the first day of his radio show on WPRO News Radio 630. Ron St. Pierre, his co-host and producer, is on the right. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Steve Szydlowski.

Buddy prepares for the first day of his radio show on WPRO News Radio 630. Ron St. Pierre, his co-host and producer, is on the right. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Steve Szydlowski.


Run, Buddy, Run

Buddy Cianci, then 73 years old, speaks to the crowd at the launch of his 2014 campaign. It was his seventh run for mayor of Providence. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bob Thayer.

Buddy Cianci, then 73 years old, speaks to the crowd at the launch of his 2014 campaign. It was his seventh run for mayor of Providence. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bob Thayer.

Former mayor Joseph Paolino at the celebration for Buddy's candidacy at DePasquale Square on Atwells Avenue. Paolino was an early supporter of Buddy's 2014 run for mayor. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bob Thayer.

Former mayor Joseph Paolino at the celebration for Buddy's candidacy at DePasquale Square on Atwells Avenue. Paolino was an early supporter of Buddy's 2014 run for mayor. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bob Thayer.

If he’s such an embarrassment, why are more than one in three voters supporting him?
— Reporter Tim White, on Buddy's candidacy
Democratic mayoral candidate and political newcomer Jorge Elorza talks with a friend at the West Broadway Neighborhood Association's Neighbor Day event in Providence. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach.

Democratic mayoral candidate and political newcomer Jorge Elorza talks with a friend at the West Broadway Neighborhood Association's Neighbor Day event in Providence. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach.

Buddy Cianci decided to run for office even though he was fighting advanced colon cancer. In this commercial, Buddy focused on education and jobs, but close friends and advisers saw that his health problems distracted him during the campaign.


Buddy Cianci listens to a rebuttal from Jorge Elorza during a mayoral debate. The two candidates were neck and neck in early polls. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Kris Craig.

Buddy Cianci listens to a rebuttal from Jorge Elorza during a mayoral debate. The two candidates were neck and neck in early polls. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Kris Craig.

You can see it in the debates. He wasn’t as sharp as he had been in the past.
— Paul Campbell

Buddy still showed flashes of his former self. In an October debate, he drew rousing applause from the audience for his proposals to fight gang violence with recreational programs. Courtesy of the Providence Public Library/The Providence Journal.

Tony Freitas (in tan jacket), a key witness in the Plunder Dome trial, jeers at Buddy during a mayoral candidates' forum. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Kris Craig.

Buddy concedes to Jorge Elorza on election night in 2014. Buddy earned 45 percent of the vote, to Elorza's 52 percent. It was the only mayoral election Buddy ever lost. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Kathy Borchers.

Buddy concedes to Jorge Elorza on election night in 2014. Buddy earned 45 percent of the vote, to Elorza's 52 percent. It was the only mayoral election Buddy ever lost. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Kathy Borchers.


Providence Says Goodbye

Buddy speaks after his portrait was unveiled at City Hall in November 2015. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Glenn Osmundson.

Buddy speaks after his portrait was unveiled at City Hall in November 2015. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Glenn Osmundson.

This is quite an honor, but I must say, it’s not the first time I’ve been framed.
— Buddy Cianci, at the unveiling of his portrait at City Hall

Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

News coverage of Buddy Cianci's death took stock of his complicated legacy, remembering both his revitalization of the city and his felony convictions. Courtesy of WPRI.

He’ll be remembered as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
— Mike Stanton

Buddy Cianci lying in state at Providence City Hall. The last mayor to have a wake at City Hall was Mayor Thomas A. Doyle in 1886. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Glenn Osmundson.

Buddy Cianci lying in state at Providence City Hall. The last mayor to have a wake at City Hall was Mayor Thomas A. Doyle in 1886. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Glenn Osmundson.

Former employees, political rivals, and Providence residents turned out to City Hall to pay their respects to Buddy Cianci. Courtesy of FOX Providence.


Joseph Paolino, left, and others walk beside the horse-drawn carriage carrying Buddy Cianci's body on the way to the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Steve Szydlowski.

Joseph Paolino, left, and others walk beside the horse-drawn carriage carrying Buddy Cianci's body on the way to the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Steve Szydlowski.

Onlookers lined Atwells Avenue after the memorial service, waiting for the hearse carrying the body of Buddy Cianci to come by on the way to St. Ann's Cemetery. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach.

Onlookers lined Atwells Avenue after the memorial service, waiting for the hearse carrying the body of Buddy Cianci to come by on the way to St. Ann's Cemetery. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach.

Former political rival Joe Paolino delivered the eulogy at Buddy Cianci's funeral. Paolino quoted Theodore Roosevelt, saying that “It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how strong the man stumbles. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.” Courtesy of WPRI.


Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Michael J.B. Kelly.

Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Michael J.B. Kelly.

The one great contribution to the city that I made was the raising of the self-esteem of these people in the city who always thought that they were pieces of shit.
— Buddy Cianci

Episode Credits

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. It is produced by Drew Nelles, Kaitlin Roberts, Austin Mitchell, and Mike Plunkett. The associate producer is Laura Sim. The show is edited by Alex Blumberg and Caitlin Kenney. Fact-checking by Mick Rouse. This episode of Crimetown was mixed, sound designed, and scored by Matthew Boll. Additional mixing by Enoch Kim, Martin Peralta, and Kenny Kusiak. Additional sound design by Ted Robinson at Silver Sound. Our title track is “Run To Your Mama” by Goat. Our credit track this week is “Rhode Island Is Famous for You,” covered by Rosaleen Eastman. Original music by John Kusiak, Kenny Kusiak, Jon Ivans, Edwin and Bienart.

Ivans, Edwin and Bienart. Ad music is by Matthew Boll. The show's digital editor is Rob Szypko. The design director is Ale Lariu. Archival footage courtesy of WPRI Channel 12. This season of Crimetown is dedicated to the memory of Zachary Malinowski. Thanks to The Providence Journal, Julia Heymans, Emily Wiedemann, Brad Turchetta and the Cianci Estate, Kate Parkinson-Morgan, Yuya Kudo, Tim White, Lisa Newby, Wayne Miller, Kate Wells, Mary Murphy, Dan Barry, David Jacobson, and everybody who shared their stories with us. Providence is a special place, and we're honored to have told a part of its story.

Ale LariuEpisode Eighteen