Jim Taricani, an award-winning television reporter who exposed corruption and served federal punishment for refusing to divulge a source, has died. He was 69 years old.
Taricani died Friday at his home in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, his girlfriend Dyana Koelsch said. The cause was kidney failure.
Taricani covered Rhode Island for 40 years, 32 of them on WJAR-TV. He focused his reporting primarily on organized crime and recorded the crimes of the New England mafia and figures, including Raymond L.S. Patriarca. He also became a national lawyer for a federal shield law, which was intended to protect journalists from divulging sources.
Taricani was convicted of civil contempt in 2004 for refusing to divulge the source of a secret FBI video depicting a Providence city official on a $ 1
He said at the time that it was important to send the video to show people what corruption looks like.
A federal judge sentenced him to six months and allowed him to serve in his home detention for his health; In 1996 he had a heart transplant. After four months, he was released for good behavior. When he retired in 2014, he told The Associated Press that he had done nothing different.
"I just think that's what a reporter does," he said. "I do not think a reporter wants to be in that position, but it's part of the job, it's part of the territory we travel to."
The lawyer who was his source admitted it later and went into prison for contempt and perjury.
The Connecticut-born Taricani started working on the radio and then joined WPRI-TV before joining WJAR, where he founded the station's investigative unit. He has won four Emmys, the Edward R. Murrow Award and the Yankee Quill Award, the highest single award of the Academy of New England Journalists.
He also became a mentor to generations of journalists, both at his own station and at competing outlets, including Christiane Amanpour of CNN. Governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo, called Taricani a "Rhode Island icon" on Saturday.
Koelsch said Taricani's wife, Laurie White, received support on Saturday from both powerful politicians and regular people who loved and respected him. US Representative David Cicilline, who was mayor after Cianci, recalled Taricani as "a person of extraordinary integrity and a journalist with principles". The Rhode Island General Assembly convened on Saturday morning held a moment of silence in honor of Taricani.
Koelsch said that despite his health problems, Taricani's transplanted heart was still strong when he died, knowing he was well beyond the life expectancy of someone with a heart transplant.
"I was lucky," he said. "Good luck."
This story has been updated to correct that Taricani was convicted of civil contempt rather than criminal contempt.