PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Lawyer William M. Kunstler said he will sue the federal government for $100 million because the FBI bugged law offices of John F. Cicilline, whorepresents several reputed organized crime figures.
Kunstler said Friday he would file the suit as early as next week in U.S. District Court, but would ask the federal appeals court in Boston to name a non-Rhode Island judge to hear the case.
The New York attorney said U.S. District Chief Judge Raymond J. Pettine authorized the secret monitoring requested by the Providence office of the Organized Crime Strike Force.
The FBI notified at least 30 people this week, including Cicilline, reputed New England organized crime boss Raymond L. S. Patriarca and another reputed mobster Nicholas L. Bianco, that their conversations had been monitored between July 16 and Aug. 10, 1980.
'This is the first time I know of that a lawyer's office has been bugged in the United States,' Kunstler said.
Defendants in the case will include U.S. Attorney General William French Smith, his predecessor Benjamin Civilletti and federal and local FBI officials.
In addition to $100 million in damages, the suit will ask the bugging be ruled illegal under the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control act and that all tapes and transcripts of the bugging be turned over to the plaintiffs.
Kunstler said the federal eavesdropping violated constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, guarantee of the due process of law and the right to legal counsel. And it also violated the common law principle of attorney-client confidentiality, he said.
'If this stands up, then no law office is safe,' Kunstler said.