Convicted Plunder Dome figure gets to keep partial pension

In this June 18, 2002, file photo co-defendants Frank E. Corrente, left, and Richard Autiello, right, walk to federal court in Providence, R.I. A proposal before the Providence city council would automatically reduce pensions for felons like Corrente, who was convicted of corruption in 2002 but given a partial pension allowance for his first 20 years in city government. (AP Photo/ Joe Giblin)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The R.I. Supreme Court has upheld a decision allowing a key figure in the Operation Plunder Dome investigation to receive a partial pension.

Frank Corrente, 89, a one-time top aide to former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, saw his pension reduced in 2008 after the Providence Retirement Board voted to strip him of benefits he accrued during his second stint as a city employee. The board ruled he could, however, collect for his first term of service with the city, from 1967 to 1987.

Corrente returned to City Hall in 1990 to work as Cianci’s director of administration until he retired in 1999, and it was his retirement benefits from those years that the board revoked. The decision meant Corrente saw his pension reduced from about $70,000 a year to $22,000 annually.

Following the board’s decision, then-Mayor David Cicilline appealed to the courts, asking for Corrente’s pension to be fully revoked. Corrente also filed an appeal looking to receive credit for taxes he paid on the pension benefits he had received that were revoked by the board.

In 2011, Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein upheld the board’s decision to reduce rather than revoke Corrente’s pension, but denied Corrente’s request for a tax credit.

In a unanimous decision released Friday, the state high court upheld Silverstein’s six-year-old decision.

“In our opinion, the board’s decision was not arbitrary, capricious, or affected by other errors or law,” Chief Justice Paul Suttell wrote in the decision. “Thus, we cannot say that the board’s decision was irrational, illogical, or not supported by substantial evidence.”

In 2002, Corrente was convicted of six federal counts in the Plunder Dome investigation, including extortion and bribery. He was famously caught on FBI undercover video accepting a $1,000 bribe in his City Hall office.

He was sentenced to 56 months in prison.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook