Investigative reporter Jim Taricani passes away

By News Staff


Twitter: @ABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I (WLNE) – Legendary investigative reporter for WJAR-TV, Jim Taricani peacefully passes away in his home on Friday, June 21st. 

In a statement from the spokesperson of his family, Dyana Koelsch said “it’s hard to describe the vast impact Jim had on our lives. His award-winning investigative reporting personified excellence in journalism.  Covering organized crime and government corruption with unwavering courage for nearly four decades. Jim was fair, thorough and compassionate. He was committed to the highest professional standards. Yet he remained humble and curious, accessible to everyone regardless of their position.” 

Taricani was a Air Force Veteran who received the Presidential Letter of Commendation in 1968 for helping secure the transfer of the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., James Earl Ray. 

In 2004, then-Mayor, Buddy Cianci was convicted of federal charges in “Operation Plunderdome,” where the case made national headlines. 

Jim Taricani was among the investigative reporters digging into it, where he released and FBI surveillance tape showing one Mayor Cianci’s top officials take a cash bribe in his city hall office. 

After Taricani refused to reveal the source who had given him the footage, a federal judge held him in contempt of court, fining him, and in November of that year, sentenced him to six months of home confinement. 

Taricani said “I made a promise to my source, which I intend to keep. Although I’m willing to go to jail. I think it’s wrong a journalist should face…simply for doing their job.” 

After his sentence, went back to work at WJAR, while also lobbying the federal government for a new law to protect other reporters from similar punishments in the future. 

Taricani earned several honors for his investigative journalism, including the Edward R. Murrow Award. 

Taricani received a heart transplant in 1996 and was a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, Rhode Island branch. 

Some of those who have expressed their condolences are: Congressman David Cicilline, Congressman Jim Langevin, Former head of Rhode Island Steven O’Donnell, and Governor Gina Raimondo.

Steven O’Donnell spoke to ABC6 and said “Jim was a pioneer as an investigative journalist. he was a strong advocate for the right of media to protect how they developed information and reported it. In addition to being my friend, he was a loving husband and he was as dedicated to her (Laurie White), as he was to his craft. He will be missed and always remembered” 

In a statement from Congressmen Cicilline, he said, “I’m very sad to hear that Jim Taricani has passed away. He was a talented, determined investigative reporter who always fought to get the story, and to get it right. He was a person of extraordinary integrity and a principled journalist. My thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s beloved wife Laurie and his entire family today.”

Congressman Langevin stated, “Jim Taricani was an extraordinary investigative reporter dedicated to the truth and transparency. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy. I send my deepest condolences to his wife Laurie and their loved ones.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo released a statement saying “Jim Taricani was a Rhode Island icon. His passion for his work, his tenacity and his integrity over his more than three decades in journalism earned the respect of Rhode Islanders everywhere. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

Family spokesperson Dyana Koelsch said, “he was kind and sensitive, generous and creative. He was a strong and selfless friend and to Laurie – the love of his life- he was a devoted husband. We celebrate his life. We were lucky to know him. He will be missed.”

No funeral details have been made apparent at his time.

 ©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2019