Reporter Granted Release From Sentence

BOSTON, April 6 - A Rhode Island television reporter who was convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to reveal the name of the person who gave him an F.B.I. videotape has been granted early release from his sentence.

The reporter, Jim Taricani of WJAR-TV in Providence, was serving a sentence of six months of home confinement. At the time of his sentencing last December, Judge Ernest C. Torres of Federal District Court said Mr. Taricani could be eligible for release in four months if he abided by the terms of his sentence. On Wednesday, the judge ruled that Mr. Taricani could be released on Saturday.

"I feel very relieved, excellent," said Mr. Taricani's wife, Laurie White.

Mr. Taricani was unable to speak with reporters on Wednesday because he is barred from giving interviews until Saturday, when his sentence is complete. He was also prohibited from working or using the Internet.

"It's been difficult," said Ms. White, who is the president-elect of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. "It's not easy to lose one's freedom. He was very disciplined. He managed his day by adhering to a very strict schedule of reading and doing some fiction writing and activities like that."

She said Mr. Taricani, a 55-year-old heart transplant recipient, had left his North Kingstown home twice for previously scheduled checkups at Massachusetts General Hospital, and had exercised 90 minutes a day. He was allowed visitors only between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day, which Ms. White said was trying on Christmas and Easter.

Mr. Taricani was convicted of violating a court order to disclose the identity of the person who gave him the videotape in 2000, when it was evidence in an investigation of government corruption in Providence. The tape, which was broadcast by Mr. Taricani's station in early 2001, showed an aide to Mayor Vincent Cianci taking a $1,000 bribe. At the time, lawyers, investigators and others involved in the corruption investigation, known as Operation Plunderdome, were under a court order not to release any surveillance tapes.

Mr. Taricani refused to reveal his source, who he said had demanded confidentiality. But a week after Mr. Taricani's conviction, the source, Joseph A. Bevilacqua Jr., identified himself.

Mr. Bevilacqua, a lawyer who represented the city tax assessor in one of the Plunderdome trials, came forward under threat of a subpoena from prosecutors after Mr. Taricani, on the morning of his trial, inadvertently gave an F.B.I. agent friend of his a clue to Mr. Bevilacqua's identity. Mr. Bevilacqua is currently under investigation.

In sentencing Mr. Taricani, Judge Torres said that "a reporter should be chilled from violating the law in order to get a story" and "from making ill-advised promises of confidentiality in order to encourage a source to do so."

Ms. White said Mr. Taricani would soon return to work at WJAR, which has paid his salary during his sentence, as well as his legal fees. She and Mr. Taricani plan to spend this weekend in Manhattan, compensating for a trip they had planned there this winter.

"We had planned to do Christmas shopping in New York City that weekend that he ended up in home confinement," she said, adding that they expected to leave for New York early Saturday. "It will be a special day. I'm sure we'll want to take full advantage."

The New York Times

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