A federal grand jury delivered indictments against Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, R.I., and three current and former executives in connection with alleged influence-peddling by a former state senator. The 151-bed hospital; Chief Executive Officer Robert Urciuoli, who has been on paid administrative leave since last month; and the former president of an assisted-living facility affiliated with Roger Williams were each charged with conspiracy and 36 counts of mail fraud. In addition, a former senior vice president of public relations and development who left Roger Williams in 2000 was charged with conspiracy and one count of mail fraud.
Former state Sen. John Celona, who pleaded guilty in August 2005 to using his position to benefit Roger Williams, is cooperating with the federal investigation. Celona received more than $260,000 as a consultant for Roger Williams while he was chairing a key Senate committee that considered legislation of interest to the hospital. Roger Williams' board said in a statement that it was shocked and deeply disturbed by the indictments and promised to vigorously defend itself. Urciuoli's lawyer, Robert Flanders Jr., said in a statement that the indictment was a "one-sided baloney sandwich" served up by Celona. Flanders said several legal experts had reviewed the contract between Celona and Roger Williams and found it was not unethical. -- by the Associated Press