Jim Taricani, an investigative reporter for Channel 10 in Providence, was found in contempt of court yesterday for refusing to reveal who leaked an undercover videotape that showed a former City Hall official taking bribe money from an FBI informant during the federal Operation Plunder Dome probe. The Providence Journal reports that Chief U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres told Taricani that he could purge himself of the contempt if he discloses, by noon today, who gave him the secret videotape. If he refuses, he must pay a fine of $1,000 a day until he divulges his source or gets the disclosure order overturned on appeal.
Leaking the FBI videotape violated a protective order issued by another judge that prohibited prosecutors, defense lawyers, investigators, or defendants from disseminating tapes connected to the corruption probe. By refusing to disclose who committed that criminal act, Taricani is impeding the administration of justice, Torres said.
Torres said he had planned to sent Taricani to prison but changed his mind after hearing that the reporter has a heart condition.