So you think you have a dysfunctional family and are dreading the holidays. Well, the odds are very good that your kin are not as divided as that of Rep. Charlene Lima, a Democrat who represents parts of Cranston and Providence.
Lima is married to a former Democratic state representative, Frank Fiorenzano, a notorious Providence pol who was convicted in the 1990s of obtaining money under false pretenses after he bilked Statehouse employees and other politicians out of thousands of dollars in a doomed Ponzi-type scheme.
According to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, Fiorenzano has been battling his brother-in-law, Kenneth Lima, Charlene Lima’s brother, since 2006 over the estate of the Lima’s late mother. Angela Lima. mother of Kenneth and Charlene Lima, died on June 3, 2004.
``This case arose in the wake of an acrimonious probate-related dispute involving Kenneth Lima and Charlene Lima, the latter being plaintiff’s wife and Kenneth’s sister. In his complaint Mr. Fiorenzano alleged that Kenneth had engaged in a pattern of harassing and abusive legal proceedings in a purported effort to inflict emotional and physical distress upon both Charlene and himself. Mr. Fiorenzano further alleged that Kenneth’s actions were motivated by his belief that he did not receive a proper share of his mother’s estate under her will. Mr. Fiorenzano asserted, inter alia, that Kenneth had filed frivolous motions in probate court and had filed a complaint with the Rhode Island State Police, alleging that Charlene had embezzled assets of the estate.’’
The probate court litigation was eventually settled on September 29, 2006 and Kenneth and Charlene signed mutual releases. But that didn’t stop the legal wrangling as both Kenneth Lima and Fiorenzano went back and forth in court for years.
In 2008, a state Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Kenneth Lima and in rendering her decision, the judge stated in regard to Fiorenzano’s complaint:
``The court finds the instant complaint to be scurrilous, bizarre; it is baseless and has components that are absolutely libelous and defamatory, per se, in that they purport to impute crimes baselessly to a person. This complaint has no place in any court of integrity in the American judicial system and the court is dismissing it.’’
But that didn’t end this family frittata. Fiorenzano and Kenneth Lima were back in court after the Superior Court decision. Kenneth Lima went to court to seal the records of the litigation. Fiorenzano also went back court to seek sanctions against Kenneth Lima. The Superior Court granted the motion to seal the records but the judge denied both parties motions for sanctions.
Fiorenzano appealed to the Supreme Court. Today the high court reached a decision tossing out the litigation. ``This case represents another chapter in the regrettable and contentious saga in which these parties, Frank Fiorenzano and Kenneth Lima (who are brothers-in-law) have been engaged for far too long a time. ‘’
Ah, the season of giving and peace, love and goodwill to all indeed.