It's more pleasant than prison, but former Providence mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci's new life at a halfway house in Boston isn't exactly freedom.
Cianci, known both for spearheading the Rhode Island city's economic rejuvenation and for his showy style and toupees, was released yesterday from the federal prison at Fort Dix, N.J., where he had been held since 2002 after his corruption conviction.
In his old life, Cianci lived at the Biltmore Hotel's presidential suite, dined at Providence's finest restaurants, and stayed out on the town into the wee hours many nights. But in his temporary home at Coolidge House in Boston, Cianci will share quarters with two to five fellow convicts, will be required to clean up after himself, and won't be allowed to stroll around the block.
Even so, it is a welcome change.
"He was in a great mood. He's happy to be out," Cianci's daughter Nicole told reporters after she and Cianci's nephew, Brad Turchetta, dropped him off.
Cianci, 66, looked as if he had lost weight from his preprison physique, and he wore a baseball hat and sunglasses as he slipped in through a back door at the halfway house without answering questions. But Turchetta said he planned to speak eventually.
"He's glad to be back, and he has a lot to say . . . probably at the end of July," Turchetta said.
Cianci was one of several people swept up in a federal investigation of rampant corruption at City Hall, dubbed "Operation Plunder Dome." He was convicted on a single count of racketeering conspiracy, but is still beloved by many residents who credit him with an economic and cultural resurgence in Providence.
Cianci is scheduled to be in federal custody through July 28, but could be released from the halfway house to home confinement before then.
Until Saturday morning, Cianci will not be allowed to leave the halfway house, which accommodates about 120 offenders in a five-story building on Huntington Avenue. He is allowed to have guests between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Friday.
Starting Monday, Cianci is to start a front-office job at the Fifteen Beacon luxury hotel in Boston.