R.I. Justice Punished Over Friendships With Crime Figures

Associated Press

A judicial ethics panel today suspended the chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court for four months after an investigation of his friendships with reputed organized crime figures.

The order released by the Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline said Chief Justice Joseph A. Bevilacqua's actions "brought his judicial office into serious disrepute."

In addition to the suspension without pay or benefits, the commission publicly censured the state's top judge.

The order also said the panel's six-month investigation found no evidence that Bevilacqua's activities affected his decisions on the high court. The order came after hours of behind-the-scenes negotiations with the 66-year-old judge, his lawyers and commission members on Thursday night and again today.

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