PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Chief Judge Frank Caprio will be retiring from the Providence Municipal Court, amid questions about his TV show “Caught in Providence” and whether he has the votes to be reappointed.
City Council President Rachel Miller said she has accepted Caprio’s decision to retire “after nearly 40 exemplary years on the bench.”
Miller said Caprio has offered to volunteer with the court and she will support his nomination for an unpaid “chief emeritus” role at next week’s council meeting. But his retirement means he will not be one of the city’s three appointed municipal judges.
The judge’s brother, Joseph Caprio, wrote on Facebook that Caught in Providence would “no longer be filming in the Providence Municipal Court.” He teased that the show may continue in some way.
“We look forward to our next chapter when we move out of the courtroom and continue to deliver a daily dose of positivity,” Caprio wrote. “Stay tuned.”
The program produced by Judge Caprio’s family members was once on local TV and public access, but propelled Caprio into national fame when it got a syndication deal.
Caprio often went viral on social media for dismissing tickets from residents who appeared on the show and shared their personal stories.
The Providence city solicitor Jeff Dana agreed earlier this week to conduct a review into the show and its ethical implications, since Caprio’s family members profit off the venture.
Miller had requested the review, and asked Dana to explore whether the city had ever authorized the show to be produced in the court, which adjudicates traffic tickets inside the Providence Public Safety Complex. The city is not paid by the production company for its use of the building or for the taxpayer-funded salaries of city employees who appear on the show.
State Rep. John Lombardi, who is one of the other municipal court judges, confirmed Friday he is interested in the chief judge position.
Lombardi said he would not be inclined to allow “Caught in Providence” to continue without city authorization or payment to the city.
“I have no interest in that at all, unless the city were to say it was fine and receive the proceeds,” Lombardi said.
City spokesperson Patricia Socarras said the city has “not been notified regarding the operation of the show” in light of Caprio’s retirement.
Caprio could not immediately be reached, but issued a statement through the City Council.
“The City of Providence welcomed my immigrant father 120 years ago and provided the opportunity to him and countless other immigrants to flourish in America,” Caprio said in the statement. “Providence remains the beacon of hope and opportunity to waves of people from around the world seeking the American Dream.”
“As I reflect on my 38 years as a Judge, I hope I have lived up to the example of all those that served before me, either on the bench, or in city government, to make Providence a city that welcomes all, and enriches the lives of every person that chooses our great city to be their home.”
He also thanked former Mayor Joe Paolino, calling him the “driving force” behind his first election as judge in 1985, along with court staff.
“And, of course, the part that I enjoyed the most, which is interacting with the wonderful mosaic of residents and visitors to our city,” Caprio said. “I look forward to the next chapter in my career and to continue enjoying the blessings of good health.”