Even Wiseguys Need Health Insurance

Goodbye to Vincent  Albert "Buddy"  Cianci, Jr. — a man who, whatever you think of him, certainly left his mark on the City of Providence. I would say that he was a Providence original if I didn't recall that though he was born in Providence he was a true son of Cranston and then, only later, the Mayor of Providence.

My absolute favorite excerpts from the eventual trial transcripts of "Operation Plunder Dome" (essentially, a RICO tapes case) were the parts discussing the selling points of various "no-show" or "low-show" jobs distributed by then Mayor Cianci. Steven Antonson, a Cianci-appointed City of Providence Building Board member, wasn't quite lucky enough to get that no-show or low-show appointment, however. Apparently, then Mayor Cianci really wanted him to show at Building Board meetings involving Providence's University Club and to wholeheartedly oppose all University Club petitions for building variances necessary for a pending re-model unless and until Mayor Cianci was offered a free lifetime membership in the University Club. What made it pure Buddy Cianci was not the apparent extortion but the ironic twist that the chief value of free lifetime membership in Providence's University Club appears to have been as payback for a rejected Buddy Cianci membership application to the Providence University Club in the early 1970's, decades earlier.

My favorite part of Buddy Cianci's sell of the Building Board appointment was Mayor Cianci's schooling of Steven Antonson on why it would be a smart move to accept it: "Remember, I appoint people to this board. You get Blue Cross. You get a check. You always said safety was important. Well, this is it."

Yes, Steven Antonson was among several would be appointees who chased the Mayor of Providence relentlessly for health insurance. Even wiseguys need health insurance. Go figure.  Or, as they say on South Coast, "Go Figah."

Steven Antonson eventually wore a wire and proved to be a fertile source of Buddy Cianci stories, many more of which you might glean from Mike Stanton's 2003 book,  The Prince of Providence: The True Story of Buddy Cianci, America's Most Notorious Mayor, Some Wiseguys, and the Feds.

x-posted at Prawfsblawg

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