Turner Sentenced To 3 Years In Bribe Case

Published January 25, 2011

Chuck Turner, whose career in public service swiftly ended with a corruption conviction, will serve three years in federal prison.

Chuck Turner (WBUR)

Chuck Turner (WBUR)

Turner, 70, must also serve three years probation. He was convicted in October 2010 of accepting a $1,000 bribe from an FBI informant and then lying to the authorities. He is to forfeit the $1,000.

U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock on Tuesday ordered Turner to report to prison in 60 days, on March 25.

“It is the obligation of every elected official to be ethical and honest, and in this case, Mr. Turner was neither,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz in a statement.

“Public corruption is more than a violation of the law, it erodes the public’s trust in the very system that was designed to protect us.”

Turner said he would appeal.

Undercover video footage, obtained by WBUR, showed the FBI informant, Ron Wilburn, passing something green, presumed to be money, to Turner.

At trial, Turner said he did not remember the 2007 exchange.

Turner’s sentencing was something of a “trial within a trial,” as prosecutors raised new charges of perjury before the judge. When Turner took the stand in his own defense, the government argued, he lied about his meeting with Wilburn. The judge agreed.

Turner again insisted his prosecution was racially motivated. Ortiz, the U.S. attorney, called that claim outrageous.

Turner’s prison sentence invalidates his lawsuit against the Boston City Council, which he filed after being expelled from the board in December 2010. Under Massachusetts law, incarcerated felons may not hold public office.

Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 33-41 months. Turner had asked for probation but no prison time.

Former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who was arrested in the same operation, pleaded guilty to accepting at least $23,500 in bribes. She will serve 42 months, or three-and-a-half years, in federal prison.

This is a developing story. WBUR’s David Boeri, at the federal courthouse, contributed reporting.