A federal appeals court in Boston rejected a request by former Rhode Island hospital executive Robert Urciuoli to overturn his conviction on charges of mail fraud.
Court rejects bid to overturn Urciuoli conviction
Urciuoli, who was president and CEO of Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, was sentenced to three years in prison for buying the influence of then-state Sen. John Celona.
The court dismissed new arguments brought by Urciuoli’s attorneys July 12 arguing that their case was strengthened by a recent Supreme Court ruling that significantly narrowed the scope of the law underpinning the conviction, which criminalizes schemes that “deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.”
The Supreme Court, in a case involving former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, ruled in June that the honest services statute is unconstitutional when construed to reach corrupt activity beyond straight bribery and kickback schemes.
Urciouli’s lawyers contended that the government failed to bring evidence to support their claim that Celona’s pay as a consultant for the hospital, totaling $260,000 over six years, amounted to bribes. They also argued that the Skilling opinion held that only the person with a fiduciary duty to the alleged victims—in this case, the residents of Rhode Island—could be guilty of honest-services fraud.
Judge Mary Lisi, in an opinion for a three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, disagreed. Rather, she writes, “Skilling is harmful to Urciuoli’s position in certain respects and his attempt to use it in his favor, although imaginative, is hopeless.”
In light of the Skilling ruling, the Supreme Court vacated an appeals court ruling against former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, who last week asked to be freed on bail pending the outcome of a new review of his case.
Scrushy was convicted on honest-services charges for making campaign contributions to then-Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman allegedly in exchange for reappointment to the state’s certificate-of-need board.
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