PROVIDENCE, R.I. His father is a Mafia lawyer famous for representing a New England crime family so powerful that its late boss was once recorded phoning Rhode Island's governor to adjust his son's college schedule. His older brother, an attorney, was just indicted in a federal sting that allegedly involves a marijuana-trafficking couple, a few lies told to a federal prosecutor and an offer to set up a drug deal. Yet Providence Mayor David Cicilline remains the anti-corruption leader of Rhode Island's capital city, whose last elected mayor, Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, is still in prison for corruption. He's leaving the door open to a run for governor, even as federal prosecutors threaten to put his brother behind bars. Perhaps improbably, Cicilline, 46, has built a political reputation as a reformer for the new Providence, a revitalized city of high-rise buildings, art galleries and waterfront parks. His tenure is seen as a break from the bribes and cronyism endemic under Cianci, and from the days when a decaying industrial town was dominated by the Mob. "People now have confidence that this is a good city to do business in, that it has an honest city government," Cicilline said in an interview at City Hall. The third of five children, Cicilline was born in Providence but raised in coastal, suburban Narragansett. Harriet Quinn, a longtime family friend, said the siblings are close. "They were raised to be extremely loyal to each other," she said. Cicilline is Providence's first openly gay mayor. And unlike his Catholic father, John F. "Jack" Cicilline, and brother, John M. Cicilline, David adopted the Judaism inherited from his mother's side. Appointed to a town advisory council at 13, Cicilline steadily honed his political skills. By high school, he was elected governor of a mock legislature for Rhode Island students, said Robert Walsh Jr., a longtime friend and now director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, a teachers' union. "He just campaigned everybody," Walsh said. His father represented Raymond L.S. Patriarca, who until his death in 1984 controlled organized crime in New England from his headquarters in a vending machine store on Federal Hill, the city's predominant Italian neighborhood. In recent years, he's also defended Luigi Manocchio, whom the FBI claims runs the remnants of Patriarca's organization. Cicilline never offered apologies for his father's career. "He said, 'Look, my father raised a family and put food on the table, and I believe like everyone else in America that everyone has a right to legal representation,"' Walsh said. A graduate of Brown University and Georgetown University's law school, Cicilline established his own law firm inside a building shared by his brother and father. Criminal defense work paid the bills, but Cicilline branched into civil rights and police brutality cases an interest partly inspired by his father. "My father was a real democrat with a small 'd', a real liberal who instilled in me the importance of recognizing our obligation to people who are less fortunate," Cicilline said. The elder Cicilline combines decades of legal experience with the street smarts of the rough-and-tumble Silver Lake neighborhood where he grew up. He was acquitted in 1985 after three trials of allegedly coaxing a witness to lie. He's known in the courtroom as a fighter, even with his own clients. "I'm the lawyer, you're the gangster," he snapped at one reputed Patriarca lieutenant, trying to silence him during a court appearance this month. While David Cicilline's legal practice made him rich enough to buy a large colonial home in one of Providence's most expensive neighborhoods, he decided to branch into politics. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1994, where he served for eight years. But his last name can be a political liability. As soon as Cicilline announced he was running for mayor in 2002, Cianci, then under indictment, snapped back. "If he won't take any contributions from city workers, then I won't take any money from the drug dealers he represents every day," the ex-mayor told reporters. When news broke last year that John M. Cicilline had racked up $5,880 in parking tickets and fines making him one of the largest parking scofflaws in the city it created a headache for the mayor. The older brother eventually paid $2,300 in August to settle the issue. But looming was an even bigger headache a federal indictment accusing John M. Cicilline and a now-disbarred lawyer and family friend of requesting more than $100,000 from a couple facing federal drug charges. According to the indictment, the two lawyers said they would use the money to set up a drug deal so their clients could expose it to federal authorities in the hopes of winning a lighter prison sentence. Both men pleaded not guilty. John M. Cicilline's lawyer and Cicilline's father didn't return calls seeking comment for this story. Mayor Cicilline said he doesn't believe the indictment, whatever its outcome, will rub off on his career or his thoughts about a possible run for governor. He says he'll consider running in 2010. "The voters have always been incredibly fair-minded," he said. "I think people judge you on who you are and what you stand for." Residents of the city don't seem to mind either. At a recent meeting Cicilline had with residents, Jose Ruiz recounted a complaint his church group made to the mayor's office about an abandoned parking lot that attracted drug dealers and prostitutes. "That same night he sent like 10 (police) cars. They even put up a fence," Ruiz said, "So does that say anything to you that he's doing something for the community?"