PROVIDENCE, R.I . - A veteran TV reporter was sentenced yesterday to six months' home confinement for refusing to disclose who had provided him with an FBI videotape showing a local politician taking a bribe.
Chief U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres said the only reason he was not sending Jim Taricani, 55, to prison was that he has serious health problems, including a compromised immune system resulting from a 1996 heart transplant.
"I am very saddened and disappointed by what has happened in this case," Torres said, adding that he disliked "sentencing a reporter whom I have admired and respected for many years."
But, the judge said, "no one is above the law. Not presidents, not reporters. Like all citizens, the reporter must obey what the Constitution and the laws say, and not what they think they should say."
Taricani was forbidden to discuss his sentence by Torres, who also imposed a series of tight restrictions so that the home confinement will mimic prison time.
The daylong hearing here took place as federal appeals court judges in Washington, D.C., began deliberations in another press freedom case involving reporters Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine. Both journalists refused to appear before the grand jury looking into who had leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent in the summer of 2003.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.