EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 1, 2013

Former Salem official to plead guilty to drug charges

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — SALEM, N.H. — Former Zoning Board of Adjustment Chairman and state Rep. Ronald “Tony” Giordano has agreed to plead guilty to drug charges.

Giordano, 54, was scheduled to face trial in Rockingham Superior Court next week for allegedly selling Oxycodone, a painkiller. Jury selection was to begin Monday, Jan. 7.

Giordano confirmed yesterday he reached a plea bargain with prosecutors, but referred all questions to his attorney, Thomas Torrisi of Methuen. He is scheduled to plead guilty Feb. 14.

Giordano has been free on $10,000 cash bail following his arrest Dec. 30, 2011. He was the focus of a monthlong investigation by Salem police, who said they found more than 100 Oxycodone pills while searching his home on Lois Lane.

Giordano faces three counts of selling Oxycodone and a charge of conspiracy to violate drug laws. Each of the felony charges is punishable by three and a half to seven years in state prison.

Torrisi said since his arrest, Giordano has intended to admit his mistake and take responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty.

The Rockingham County attorney’s office was only recently notified of the decision. County Attorney James Reams said he could not comment on the case.

Torrisi did not say how many charges Giordano would plead guilty to.

“The final details of the plea agreement are still being worked out,” Torrisi said yesterday.

Giordano resigned from the zoning board just three days after his arrest, which stunned Salem officials, even though he had a criminal record in Massachusetts.

Giordano was just one of three Salem officials to resign from office in a two-year period for criminal conduct.

He served two stints in Massachusetts prisons in the early 1980s after he was convicted on five charges of forging checks and another charge of stealing a pair of handcuffs.

Giordano later lost races for the Lowell City Council in 1983, 1991 and 1993, blaming the media for exposing his criminal past. Giordano, then named Ronald Gordon, changed his name and moved to Salem in the mid-1990s.

But controversy followed Giordano to New Hampshire, where he was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2000. Two years later, he was found guilty of sexually harassing Statehouse secretary Dorothy Pike, who was awarded $175,000 in damages and $12,666 in lost wages.

Pike claimed Giordano forcibly kissed her and groped her at work. Giordano claimed he only made a sexually explicit phone call to Pike at home while he was drunk.

Giordano resigned his seat in August 2002, but not because of the harassment lawsuit. Four months earlier, he took a job with U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., but then realized he could not be a federal employee and an elected official.