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William Dimitri Jr., attorney for Cianci, Superior judge

PROVIDENCE -- Judge William A. Dimitri Jr., a career lawyer who alternately defended, prosecuted, and sentenced some of Rhode Island's most infamous criminals, died of cancer on Saturday , his family and a court spokesman said. He was 76.

Appointed a Superior Court judge in 1996, Judge Dimitri most recently ran a court dedicated to gun cases. In 2003, he sentenced Charles Pona to life in prison for ordering the death of a 15-year-old girl who was expected to testify against Pona in another murder case.

Before Judge Dimitri became a judge, he worked as a criminal defense attorney and represented former Patriarca mob boss Nicholas Bianco and former Providence Mayor Vincent ``Buddy" Cianci during a 1980s probe into City Hall corruption.

Cianci was convicted of racketeering conspiracy in 2002 during a separate investigation and sentenced to 64 months in federal prison.

Judge Dimitri also served as a state and federal prosecutor.

Supreme Court Justice Frank Williams called Judge Dimitri's death a great loss.

``He was what a judge should be: fair and compassionate," Williams said in a statement.

Judge Dimitri leaves his wife, Carlene, two daughters, and two sons.

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