Jim Taricani, an investigative reporter for Channel 10 in Providence, was found guilty of criminal contempt Thursday for refusing to reveal the source of an undercover videotape that showed a City Hall official accepting a cash bribe, reports the Providence Journal. After a trial that lasted less than an hour and that was based entirely on arguments made by lawyers, Chief U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres said “the evidence is clear and overwhelming and undisputed” that Taricani had willfully violated the law for refusing to obey a court order to disclose the source of the leaked FBI videotape, even if he felt he had good reasons for doing so.
Taricani faces up to six months in prison. The judge set sentencing for Dec. 9 and told the reporter, “You ought to be prepared for any eventuality at the time of sentencing.” The 55-year-old veteran reporter had a heart transplant in 1996 and a pacemaker installed three years ago and has to take medication every 12 hours to control his immune system. Outside the courthouse, Taricani called his conviction “an assault on journalistic freedom.”