Two former Rhode Island medical center executives have asked a federal appeals court to overturn their convictions for paying a state senator to advance the hospitals political agenda, saying the trial judge gave the jury flawed instructions.
Robert Urciuoli, the former president and chief executive officer of 146-bed Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, was convicted last fall along with former vice president Frances Driscoll for directing ex-state Sen. John Celona to support bills favorable to the hospital and oppose legislation the hospital was against. Their convictions were part of a sweeping federal probe into Statehouse corruption. (Read more on their sentencing here. Subscription required.)
Defense lawyers argued in written briefs submitted to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston that the judge erred by permitting the jury to consider work that Celona did for the hospitalsuch as lobbying towns for increased ambulance runs and facilitating meetings with insurance company executivesthat had nothing to do with legislation or his job as a senator.
U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres told jurors they could consider any work that Celona performed on the hospital's behalf either behind the scenes or under the cloak of his office. But the defense lawyers said those instructions were overly broad and permitted jurors to convict their clients for conduct that was not illegal and for activities entirely unrelated to the legislative duties which the public elected (Celona) to perform. -- by the Associated Press