Henry J Cianfrani
Henry J. Cianfrani, a powerful and flamboyant former state senator who served prison time on corruption charges in the 1970's, died today. He was 79. Mr. Cianfrani, who had a stroke on May 21, died at Hahnemann University Hospital on the day he was scheduled to be released, said Representative Robert A. Brady, Democrat of Pennsylvania, Mr. Cianfrani's protégé. Mr. Cianfrani, who was known as Buddy, was a fixture of Philadelphia politics for decades, a larger-than-life character beloved in his South Philadelphia community. He remained a Democratic ward leader until his death. He was regarded as a master strategist and helped many candidates win local, state and federal races. He controlled scores of patronage jobs. His death ''was a shock,'' Mr. Brady said. ''We all thought he was coming along well.'' Born on March 19, 1923, in Philadelphia, Mr. Cianfrani served in the Army in World War II and was a delegate to the 1960 Democratic National Convention. He took over his father's seat in the State House of Representatives in 1962. In 1966, he moved to the Senate, where he became chairman of the Appropriations Committee. With Speaker Herbert Fineman, a fellow Philadelphia Democrat, Mr. Cianfrani was adept at funneling state dollars to the city. In 1977, at the height of his power, Mr. Cianfrani was convicted of racketeering, mail fraud and related charges for putting two phantom employees on the Senate payroll. He served 27 months of a five-year federal prison sentence.
Mr. Cianfrani mostly sat on the political sidelines during the 1980's but won his old ward seat back in 1988 and had re-emerged as something of a power by the early 1990's. He secretly dated Laura Foreman, a political reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer who wrote about Mr. Cianfrani while reportedly accepting gifts and money from him. Ms. Foreman later moved to the Washington bureau of The New York Times but left in 1977 when their affair became public. They married after his release from prison in 1980. Mr. Cianfrani is survived by his wife; three daughters; six grandchildren; and a brother, Joseph. Died July 4, 2002.