Raymond S. DeLeo, a central figure in a scandal that led to the resignation of former Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci in the 1980s, has died. He was 89.
DeLeo, a lifelong resident of Bristol who was involved in Republican politics, died at Rhode Island Hospital on Feb. 5 after a brief illness, his son, Stephen DeLeo, said Wednesday.
Raymond DeLeo unwittingly found himself at the center of Rhode Island politics in 1983, when Cianci - believing DeLeo was the lover of his estranged wife - was accused of assaulting him in an attack at the former mayor's home on the East Side of Providence. The incident was said to involve a fireplace log, a lit cigarette and an ashtray.
Cianci, who described the charges in his book, "Politics and Pasta," as being "trumped-up," said the confrontation with DeLeo "changed my life dramatically." He was forced from office in 1984 after pleading guilty to felony assault, and believed his political career was over. Cianci later staged a political comeback, only to resign from the mayor's office again after a conviction on corruption charges.
DeLeo founded and ran his own contracting business, Raymond Construction Co., continuing to work until his death, Stephen DeLeo said. He also became active in Republican politics, serving in local positions, as the state chair of Nelson Rockefeller's presidential campaign and as a delegate to national Republican conventions in Chicago, San Francisco and Miami.
"It was something that always fascinated him," said Stephen DeLeo.
DeLeo graduated in 1941 from what was then Colt Memorial High School, where he played football on the state championship team. He attended Wesleyan and Princeton universities and Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., as part of a Navy training program during World War II; he served in the Aleutian Islands.
Stephen DeLeo said his father was an avid New England Patriots fan - he held season tickets for more than 40 years - and loved being on the water in his old wooden powerboat.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Ann, four children and six grandchildren.
A funeral Mass is scheduled for March 23 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Bristol.