EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 15, 2013

Former Salem official led double life

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — BRENTWOOD — Former state representative and Salem town official Ronald “Tony” Giordano has led what some would call a double life.

He has rubbed elbows with New Hampshire’s top leaders as a member of the Legislature and led Salem’s Zoning Board of Adjustment. But today, he’s sitting in a county jail cell.

Giordano, 54, was sentenced to a year in jail on drug charges after pleading guilty in Rockingham Superior Court yesterday to selling the painkiller Oxycodone.

If Giordano violates his probation once he is released next year, he could serve the maximum 20 years in state prison, Judge N. William Delker said. He also received a suspended five- to 10-year prison sentence.

Delker said he hoped his sentence would put Giordano back on the “very productive and promising path” he was on.

“Sadly, you have seemed to have stepped off that path and committed some serious crimes here,” Delker said.

Giordano, dressed in a white short-sleeve shirt, tie and black pants, did not speak in court other than respond to Delker’s questions. But he did give a letter to the judge. The letter was not read in court.

Giordano was arrested Dec. 30, 2011, after selling 139 Oxycodone pills to a Salem police informant on three occasions. He was the focus of a monthlong investigation by police, who said they found more than 100 pills while searching his home on Lois Lane.

Girodano was released on $10,000 cash bail and resigned from the zoning board within days of his arrest. But it wasn’t until December 2012 that he decided to plead guilty as part of a plea agreement — shortly before his trial was to begin Jan. 7.

Giordano refused to comment on the plea deal at the time, referring all questions to his attorney, Thomas Torrisi.

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

Giordano faced three and half to seven years in prison if convicted on the three counts of sale of a controlled drug and single count of conspiracy to the sale of a controlled drug. He must receive drug and alcohol counseling in jail and pay $580 in restitution to the Salem Police Department.

Giordano waved to a small group of supporters yesterday as a sheriff’s deputy led him off to jail. The group, including Torrisi and attorney William Gilmore, declined to comment on the sentence.

When Giordano was arrested a year ago, some fellow Salem officials said they were shocked. Others said they knew about Giordano’s past, but thought he was changed man, going on to serve as a state representative, Budget Committee member and Planning Board alternate.

He also led a successful effort to make the Planning Board and zoning board seats elected positions.

It was all part of the double life Giordano lived, some said.

That double life even included having two names — and a criminal record in multiple states.

Giordano 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, who was living in Lowell at the time, decided to run for political office. He lost races for the Lowell City Council in 1983, 1991 and 1993, blaming the media for exposing his criminal past.

He also has a firearms conviction in Texas.

Giordano, then named Ronald Gordon, changed his name and moved to Salem in the mid-1990s.

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. She 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.