A federal appeals court threw out the prison sentence of former Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci (search) and ordered him to be resentenced by a lower court on his conviction for racketeering (search) conspiracy.

Under the ruling issued Tuesday in Boston, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will send the case back to U.S. District Court Judge Ernest Torres in Providence for resentencing. No date was set.

The 63-year-old Cianci, a dominant figure in city politics from the 1970s onward, has been in prison since December 2002.

The action follows a January U.S. Supreme Court decision that made the federal sentencing guidelines discretionary rather than mandatory. The order also vacated the sentences of Frank Corrente (search), Cianci's former aide, and Richard Autiello (search), a politically connected tow-truck operator. The appeals court affirmed the three men's 2002 convictions in the City Hall corruption scandal, and did not recommend what sentences should be imposed.

Cianci's lawyer, John Terry MacFadyen, had argued that Torres erred when he sentenced Cianci to five years and four months because he depended on mandatory sentencing guidelines.

The order also vacated the sentences of Frank Corrente, Cianci's former aide, and Richard Autiello, a politically connected tow-truck operator. The appeals court affirmed the three men's 2002 convictions in the City Hall corruption scandal, and did not recommend what sentences should be imposed.

MacFadyen said he was not sure if Cianci, who is being held at the federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J., would return to Providence for hearings on the matter.

According to the Bureau of Prisons, his projected release date under the vacated sentence had been July 28, 2007.