PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The woman who was engaged to marry late Providence Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci is now taking his estate to court to obtain potentially millions of dollars she says she’s entitled to receive.
Court documents obtained by Eyewitness News show Tara Marie Haywood has filed a claim in Providence Probate Court against Cianci’s estate to receive “an amount to be determined.” The documents say she “provided services” to the former mayor “throughout their relationship.”
Haywood’s lawyer, Frank Lombardi, told Eyewitness News she served as Cianci’s caretaker during his final months and is therefore entitled to a portion of his estate.
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“The law is pretty clear that people are entitled to compensation as a result of those services rendered,” Lombardi said Friday in an interview at his Providence law office.
Brad Turchetta, Cianci’s nephew and the executor of his estate, did not respond to requests for comment Friday. John Harpootian, the attorney for Cianci’s estate, also did not respond to a request for comment.
In addition to the compensation claim, Haywood is also looking for the court to legally recognize her as Cianci’s spouse under common law. The couple were engaged in December of 2015 but did not wed prior to Cianci’s death the following month.
The pair had been together for less than two years at the time of Cianci’s death, but Lombardi contends there is enough evidence to support Haywood’s petition to be considered Cianci’s common-law wife.
“I think the common misunderstanding is that somehow there’s this rule in the law books, seven years, and there’s a checklist,” Lombardi said of the state guidelines for common-law marriage. “No such thing. It’s how it’s manifested in the public; how does the public at large view the relationship?”
He said because Cianci and Haywood cohabited and presented themselves as a married couple, she can legally be considered his spouse.
If the court agrees and determines that Haywood was Cianci’s common-law wife, she could be entitled to half of his probate estate, he said.
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The value of Cianci’s probate estate and trust have not been publicly released, but Lombardi believes it could be in the range of $7 million to $10 million.
Haywood previously told WPRI.com that she and Cianci met in July of 2014 and became “pretty much inseparable” by September of that year, during the former mayor’s unsuccessful comeback bid for Providence mayor. She said Cianci proposed on Christmas Day 2015. He passed away on Jan. 26 at the age of 74.
Haywood was roughly 40 years Cianci’s junior, but Lombardi says the pair were soulmates.
“She wasn’t a gold digger – she was truly in love with him,” said Lombardi.
He said the Cianci family has asked Haywood to move out of the apartment she shared with the former mayor, and to return a car he gifted to her.
“Tara has been treated with some degree of disrespect since Mr. Cianci’s death,” said Lombardi, who is also a Democratic state senator representing Cranston.
Cianci’s will was signed on Sept. 4, 2002, and predates his relationship with Haywood. She was not mentioned in the will.