Ronald Giordano, 54, pleaded guilty to three counts of sale of a controlled drug and conspiracy to sell a controlled drug. He sold roughly 140 pills to an informant under surveillance of Salem police during a three week period.
Giordano offered no public statements during the brief hearing on Thursday morning in superior court. Instead, he handed a letter to Judge N. William Delker before being led out of the courtroom by a sheriff deputy to begin his sentence.
"I hope this sentence that I am imposing in this case sets you back on what looked like a very productive and promising path you were on," Delker told Giordano after reading the note. "Sadly, you have seemed to have stepped off that path. Hopefully, after you serve your sentence, you will return to a productive path of society."
The former town official faced up to 20 years in prison and a $300,000 fine had he been convicted on all charges at trial.
Giordano will be eligible for work release. He was given an additional five- to 10-year suspended prison sentence on one of the drug convictions.
Giordano’s arrest by Salem police in December 2011 upended his career in town politics, grounding a return to public office after a term as a state representative in 2005 ended with a lawsuit alleging he sexually harassed a House employee.
That lawsuit was ultimately settled with the House agreeing to pay $85,000 to a committee secretary.
Giordano went on to successfully spearhead an effort to make Salem’s zoning and planning boards elected positions, ending years of the seats being appointed by selectmen.
At the time of his arrest, he was serving as the ZBA chairman, a post he promptly resigned from once criminal charges came to light.
Assistant County Attorney Karen Springer told Delker that Giordano’s drug case was not his first brush with the law.
He has a larceny conviction from 1978, which earned him a three-month jail stint; a 1978 conviction for defrauding government funds; a 1984 larceny conviction – all in Massachusetts; a 1985 federal firearms conviction in Texas and a possession of a controlled drug case in New York from 1988, according to Springer.
He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in the earlier drug case in 1991, she said.
Giordano also was ordered to participate in drug and alcohol treatment and counseling. He will be placed on probation for two years upon his release.
Delker warned Giordano that if he violates that terms of his probation in the next two years, he could face up to the maximum 20-year state prison sentence.