Operation Dollar Bill or Nickel + Dime?


US Attorney Robert Clark Corrente scored a win with this week's conviction of Robert Urciuoli. Yet given the relative lack of forward public momentum on Operation Dollar Bill -- which Corrente himself once identified as an active investigation of seven politicians and an equal number of companies -- the probe has thus far failed to meet its expectations.

During a taping this morning of WPRI/WNAC-TV's Newsmakers, Corrente defended the investigation, describing it as something that grew steadily more complex as it progressed and which is onging. My fellow panelist Arlene Violet, a former AG, wondered aloud, though, whether Dollar Bill more closely resembles Operation Nick and Dime.

An Obama victory in November could well spell the end of Corrente's tenure as RI's top federal prosecutor, although he said that possibility is not a factor in the prosecution of Dollar Bill. He said it would be a matter of months before decisions are made on other key players, and that the public will most likely know of these only if they result in indictment(s).

Corrente would not clarify whether Operation Dollar Bill is looking at former senate president William V. Irons, whose name has been mentioned for years on the periphery of the case. (Irons, btw, was at last night's Doris Kearns Goodwin lecture at Roger Williams University.) 

Here are some other highlights from today's show, which will be broadcast at 2 pm Saturday on WPRI (Channel 12), and at 5:30 am Sunday on WPRI and on Fox 64:

-- Decisions about whether to return John Celona to the witness stand will be made on what Corrente called a case-by-case basis. The corrupt former state senator's lack of credibility was seen as a major factor in the acquittal earlier this year of two former CVS officials.

-- Asked whether he might run for governor, Corrente said, "The short answer is 'no' " and he indicated a general disinclination to run for another office. With potential judgeships not having materialized, Corrente seems destined one day to return to private practice.

 -- Corrente says the US Justice Department, in the wake of the fiscal crisis, has sent guidelines to US attorneys on prosecuting financial crimes.

-- Asked about Frank Corrente receving a partial pension, Corrente said:

It wasn’t my call. I think given what the evidence had showed I was certainly surprised to see what the board did. There was a certainly good reason to deny his pension given the conviction. I know the mayor has introduced a new ordinance to try and deal with that problem. I think one thing it shows the ripple effects to a corruption investigation like that.

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