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Exclusive Investigation
The Plunder Dome Tapes: Part One, Cianci Caught On Tape
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For the first time we hear former mayor Buddy Cianci on secretly recorded FBI audio tapes. The tapes provide a rare, inside look at the bribes and extortion that were part of the way business was done in the Capital City. Eyewitness News investigative reporter Jack White joins us with his exclusive investigation. Eyewitness News obtained all 58 of the secretly recorded FBI tapes used in the Plunder Dome trial. The tapes bring to life the trial that sent Buddy Cianci and his two co-defendants to federal prison. Tonight we hear conversations between the former mayor and former city building board member, Steve Antonson. The topic- lying for the mayor.
Mayor Vincent Cianci was captured on tape only twice, both times in phone conversation with city building board member Steven Antonson.
That conversation took place just after the FBI questioned Antonson about charges that Cianci extorted a membership in the exclusive university club by denying renovation permits.
The Plunder Dome trial was about greed and power, the people in power - Mayor Cianci, his top aide Frank Corrente and tow truck company operator Richard Autiello - shaking people down.
The real drama, as shown is these secretly recorded FBI tapes, was played out in rooms behind closed doors and captured on hidden cameras and microphones. Former tax official Joseph Pannone told the FBI�s undercover operative, Antonio Freitas, that Cianci taught him the art of taking a bribe. Cianci was accused of running a criminal enterprise from City Hall that over a nine year period collected more than 2 million dollars in kickbacks and bribes in exchange for contracts, leases and city jobs.  Joe Pannone regularly picked up bribe money for himself, and he said, for Cianci and Corrente.
It was enough to convict Cianci of racketeering conspiracy and send him to a federal prison in  New Jersey for five years and four months. The charges that Cianci tried to get Antonson to lie to the FBI were dismissed because the prosecution did not clear up some confusion about Antonson�s testimony.
But after the trial, jurors said the Antonson tapes played a big role in their decision to convict Cianci of racketeering conspiracy.
Tonight we�ll focus more one the second Antonson tape- in which Cianci seems to be coaching Antonson on what to say, and not to say, to the FBI.

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