PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A former city tax official explained in more detail Thursday how he obtained bribes that he said were arranged for Mayor Vincent Cianci Jr.
As he took the stand for a third day, David Ead told how he unwittingly coached FBI informant Antonio Freitas to avoid getting caught by federal investigators looking into City Hall corruption.
In secretly recorded tapes made in January and February 1999, Ead told Freitas about a plan to pay Cianci a $10,000 bribe so that Freitas could get a good deal on two blighted lots he wanted to buy from the city.
Freitas noted one of the properties is no longer available.
Ead told Freitas to pay the full amount anyway.
"I would give him the ten and have him (Cianci) owe you one," Ead said on the tape.
Later, Ead is heard telling Freitas: "The only thing the mayor cares about is this," as he rubbed his fingers together.
"What does that mean?" Assistant U.S. Attorney General Richard Rose asked.
"Money," Ead replied.
Freitas secretly recorded more than 180 conversations with city officials.
Federal prosecutors have played several of the tapes since Wednesday in the federal corruption trial of Cianci and three others.
Cianci, his former administration director and accused bagman Frank Corrente and businessmen Richard Autiello and Edward Voccola have pleaded innocent to a 29-count federal indictment accusing them of racketeering, extortion, bribery, mail fraud and witness tampering.
On the tapes, Ead repeatedly boasts to Freitas that he can go straight to the mayor.
Though Cianci is never specifically mentioned by name, there are frequent mentions of "the mayor," "the man downtown," "the boss" and "the big guy."
"With the mayor, we can go a long way," Freitas said. "He's a go-getter."
Ead is heard telling Freitas how to avoid getting caught up in any investigations into corruption at City Hall.
"Any time you talk to me on the telephone, don't mention anything about a check," he said.
"I'm very cautious because I don't want to get burned by nobody," Ead told Freitas. "You can appreciate me being careful because you and I are just becoming friends."
Ead warned Freitas to be careful in his dealings with Corrente, who Ead said is being watched by investigators. If Corrente is ever arrested, he could turn Freitas over to the FBI, he said.
Cianci is accused of heading a criminal conspiracy in which bribes, disguised as campaign contributions, were paid in exchange for favors and tax breaks from the city.
Ead pleaded guilty to federal extortion charges two years ago and agreed to cooperate in the FBI investigation into City Hall, known as Operation Plunder Dome.