A former Rhode Island hospital executive was again found guilty of conspiring to bribe a state senator to press the hospitals interests.
The trial in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., was the second for Robert Urciuoli, who was president and chief executive officer of Roger Williams Medical Center, and Frances Driscoll, who was a senior vice president. Their previous convictions were overturned on appeal because the judges jury instructions were deemed flawed, leading prosecutors to pursue a second trial.
After the three-week retrial and four days of deliberation, the jury found Urciuoli guilty of all 36 charges leveled against him in the indictmentone count of conspiracy and 35 counts of mail fraudand acquitted Driscoll of a single count of aiding and abetting the mail-fraud scheme. Urciuoli faces up to 20 years in prison.
Roger Williams Medical Center hired then-Rhode Island Sen. John Celona in 1998 as a consultant for an assisted-living facility owned by the hospital. Urciuoli and Driscolls attorneys maintained throughout the trial that Celona was brought onboard to do legitimate work educating the community about services available to seniors. The jurors, however, sided with the governments allegation that the $260,639 Celona was paid from 1998 to 2004 was intended to buy his support or opposition to legislation affecting the hospital and to intervene on the hospitals behalf in its contract negotiations with insurers Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island and UnitedHealthcare.
Celona pleaded guilty to corruption charges and cooperated with prosecutors in their investigations of his dealings with Roger Williams, CVS Corp. and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island. He is serving time in a federal prison. -- by Gregg Blesch