Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sketches And Quotations: The DiMasi Case’s 1st 2 Weeks

Published May 23, 2011

As the federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi entered its third week today, WBUR’s David Boeri recaps the case so far, with the help of sketches by Margaret Small.

Background: In 2006 and 2007, a Canadian software company called Cognos won two contracts from the state worth $17.5 million. According to federal prosecutors, the contracts came off as the result of a scheme whereby Speaker DiMasi “found a way to cash in on that office.”

As “kickbacks” for steering the contracts to Cognos, the government alleges, DiMasi and his associates and close friends Richard McDonough and Richard Vitale received hundreds of thousands of dollars from software salesman Joe Lally.

Lally, who won millions of dollars of sales commissions on the contracts, has plead guilty to the charges of conspiracy and honest services mail fraud. As a condition of his plea deal, he has agreed to testify against his former co-defendants. In return for his testimony, Lally will receive a recommendation for a reduced prison sentence and the government allowed him to keep his home and other assets, which would have been otherwise forfeited.

The maximum sentence on all the charges against the defendants amounts to 165 years. DiMasi, McDonough and Vitale all assert their innocence.


The defense table (Margaret Small for WBUR)

The defense table

From left to right: defendant Richard — everyone calls him “Dickie” — McDonough, a well-known lobbyist on Beacon Hill and close friend of DiMasi; William Cintolo, DiMasi’s attorney; Tom Drechsler, McDonough’s attorney; DiMasi, most often referred to as “Sal” or “The Speaker”; and Tom Kiley, co-counsel for DiMasi.

As with all images, click to enlarge.


Former DiMasi law associate Steven Topazio, center, testifies as prosecutor Theodore Merritt, right, questions and DiMasi, left, looks on. (Margaret Small for WBUR)

“Did you ever get any other clients referred to you by Mr. DiMasi for whom you did no work?”

[From the defense table] “Objection!”

Steven Topazio, center, testifies under questioning by federal prosecutor Theodore Merritt, while DiMasi watches from the lower left.

A law associate of DiMasi, Topazio was paid $5,000 a month by Cognos on a contract for which he was never asked to do any work. He testified that he paid $4,000 a month to DiMasi — $65,000 in all — thinking that was DiMasi’s share for referring the client. The government says the money was a series of kickbacks from Lally disguised as consulting fees to Topazio.
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Bruins Hit By ‘Rapture’ A Bit Early

Published May 23, 2011

I had all intentions of writing something praising Claude Julien for such a wonderful job this season in coaching the Boston Bruins to within two games of the Stanley Cup Finals. After all, I was never fond of his hiring, and over the past four-plus years behind the Bruin bench nothing really has changed my mind.

The Lightning celebrate a goal as Bruins Tim Thomas, left, and Dennis Seidenberg react during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday in Tampa, Fla. (AP)

The Lightning celebrate a goal as Bruins Tim Thomas, left, and Dennis Seidenberg react during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday in Tampa. (AP)

Then there was Saturday. The Apocalypse, The Rapture, the end of the world as we know it, and nothing was fine. The Bruins lost Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning in Tampa Bay and now the series is tied, 2-2.

It wasn’t that they loss, it was how they lost. Let’s review: The Bruins scored three first period goals, including two unassisted by Patrice Bergeron and one of those shorthanded. 3-0 Boston after one period. At that point, the Bruins decided to hop their charter and fly back to Boston with thoughts of clinching at home, while the Lightning played the final two periods all alone and came back to win 5-3. Best-of-three series.
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Sox Head Back To 1918 World Series

Published May 20, 2011

The 1918 Boston Red Sox, including Babe Ruth, fifth from left. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy National Baseball Library)

The 1918 Boston Red Sox, including Babe Ruth, fifth from left. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy National Baseball Library)

Don’t do a double-take while watching the Red Sox game tomorrow night. There’s no Model T in your driveway, by George, the Sox and the Chicago Cubs will just be wearing throwback uniforms.

The Cubs are in town this weekend for the first time since 1918, when the Sox vanquished Chicago’s north-siders to win the World Series.

On Sept. 11, 1918, the Sox beat the Cubs 2-1 in the series’ deciding sixth game. Some allege the Cubs threw the series, just like the Chicago “Black Sox” did a year later. Regardless, the Sox brought home the banner.

Boston’s hero that day? Actually, it was Cubs rightfielder Max Flack — he committed the error that led to the Sox’ only runs.

Back then, there was no Curse of the Bambino. Instead, the Sox were somewhat of a juggernaut, according to the Boston Daily Globe of Sept. 12, 1918. Here’s the paper’s lede for “Red Sox Win Sixth Game And The Title”:

Boston is again the capital of the baseball world, history repeating itself yesterday when the Red Sox, who have never faltered in this great classic, defeated the Cubs, 2 to 1.

Besides, Babe Ruth pitched the Sox to wins in Games 1 and 4 of the series.

Boston has kicked the Curse of the Bambino, but star-crossed Cubs fans continue to suffer. Maybe facing up to the team’s traumatic Fenway Park experiences is just what The Babe, and the doctor, ordered.

Thanks to reader @nsmorrow for help in researching this post

Friday Morning: Authorities Uncover MBTA Pass Scheme

Published May 20, 2011

Next stop…the courtroom?

Authorities said yesterday they had uncovered a massive scheme that defrauded the MBTA out of millions of dollars. Attorney General Martha Coakley accused a Revere man of fabricating “ghost” MBTA passes that looked and worked like the real thing, and of selling them online and keeping the profits.

Even as defense attorneys worked to portray him as a liar and a cheat, former software salesman Joseph Lally continued to testify that he was part of a scheme that funneled kickbacks to former House Speaker Sal DiMasi. Lally has already pleaded guilty to charges connected to the scheme.

The bizarre case of the man sometimes known as Clark Rockefeller (nee Christian Gerhartsreiter) is back in the news. Gerhartsreiter’s lawyer said yesterday that his client won’t fight Los Angeles County prosecutors’ efforts to extradite him to California to face murder charges.

A tireless advocate for the nation’s only publicly funded art college, MassArt President Kay Sloan will follow the school’s students in moving on after commencement. Sloan is retiring after 15 years on the job.

Boston University will honor Nina Totenberg, NPR’s legal affairs correspondent, with an honorary degree. Totenberg studied journalism at BU, but left before graduating to embark on her now legendary career.

What we’re following: We’ll continue to report on a new contract for nurses at Tufts Medical Center, developments in the trial of Nancy Kerrigan’s brother and the preparations for what could be a busy hurricane season.

Obama Visits The Hub… Again

Published May 18, 2011

President Obama talks to students during his visit to classrooms at TechBoston Academy with Melinda Gates in Boston last March. (AP)

President Obama talks to students during his visit to classrooms at TechBoston Academy with Melinda Gates in Boston last March. (AP)

President Obama is returning to the Bay State tonight to raise money for his 2012 re-election campaign.

After delivering the commencement speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., the president will head to Boston for two fundraising events where he could raise over $2.2 million, according the Boston Globe. That would more than double what he raised during a visit in March.

Obama’s first appearance will be at an event sponsored by the Democratic National Committee at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End, featuring Celtics guard Ray Allen and Hall of Famer Bill Russell.

After the South End fundraiser, Obama will attend a private dinner at the Brookline residence of advertising executive Jack Connors.

The Globe’s Donovan Slack will be following Obama all day but the Boston Herald was denied a spot as the pool reporter, according to the paper.

White House spokesman Matt Lehrich’s cited the editorial written by Mitt Romney that the Herald printed on the front page on the day Obama last visited Boston as one of the reasons why the paper wasn’t chosen for pool duties.

The Herald printed part of Lehrich’s response to the Herald’s request for full access:

“I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly in determining local pool reporters… My point about the op-ed was not that you ran it but that it was the full front page, which excluded any coverage of the visit of a sitting US President to Boston.”

Lehrich insisted that the paper wasn’t barred from the press pool, but that local pool duty by the Boston Globe was arranged with the White House Correspondents Association.

According to the president’s schedule, Obama should be delivering remarks at the Cyclorama at 6:15 p.m. and in Brookline at 8:25 p.m. Tremont Street is prepping for the visit, but all of Boston should anticipate a tough evening commute as the presidential motorcade rolls through town.

Follow WBUR’s Fred Thys (@fredthys) who will be tweeting live from the event in the South End.

Are you cancelling any plans to avoid the traffic? Are you heading downtown to try and catch a glimpse of the president? We want to hear from you in the comments.

Wednesday Morning: Data Breach Infects State Computers

Published May 18, 2011

More than 200,000 people across the state could become victims of identify theft after a data security breach at the state’s Division of Unemployment Assistance and Career Centers. A computer at one of the centers was infected with the Qakbot virus on April 20, according to state Labor Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein.

For the second time so far this year, Boston will get the presidential treatment. President Obama is expected to head into town tonight for fundraisers at the Boston Center for the Arts and at the Brookline home of advertising mogul Jack Connors.

The Navy’s elite police unit is helping investigate the case of the unidentified dead boy in Maine, after authorities revealed that a witness saw a license plate with a Navy emblem on it near where the body was found.

The federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and two co-defendants is expected to take a dramatic turn today, when Joseph Lally, a former sales agent for Cognos Software, takes the stand. Lally has pleaded guilty to being a part of the kickback scheme as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

What we’re following: We’ll continue to report on the journalists with Boston ties being held in Libya, the municipal health care debate on Beacon Hill and developments in the trial of Nancy Kerrigan’s brother.

Bruins Look To Avoid Mistakes, Rebound In Game Two

Published May 17, 2011

Boston Bruins' Chris Kelly wipes his face as a Tampa Bay Lightning player celebrates a goal during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. (AP)

The Boston Bruins' Chris Kelly skates away as a Tampa Bay Lightning player celebrates a goal during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. (AP)

Tell me if you’ve seen this movie before.

On Saturday night, the Boston Bruins played a pivotal playoff game as if it was nothing more but a regular season matchup. They played without any of the intensity, emotion, or urgency that would lead you to believe that four wins would get them to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup semifinals at the TD Garden against the Tampa Bay Lightning was oh-so-reminiscent of the Bruins’ first game against the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round of this year’s playoffs. Despite the high stakes and electric atmosphere before the puck dropped, the team Bruins fans were excited to see seemed nonplussed.

Everything the Bruins did right in their previous series against the Philadelphia Flyers, they did wrong on Saturday. They seemed tentative and defensive and made mistake after mistake — perhaps none more glaring than Tomas Kaberle’s first period turnover that led to Teddy Purcell’s score, giving the Lightning a quick three goal lead.

Unfortunately, the poor play didn’t stop there. Goalie Tim Thomas had been on a hot streak, but seemed to take a step backward in Game 1. Tampa Bay’s first score, by Sean Bergenheim, followed multiple errors. Thomas thought he had the puck tied up under his glove, but it slipped out to his right. Dennis Seidenberg lost his stick on the play and kicked the puck right to Bergenheim, who put it in.

Not even 20 seconds later, Thomas allowed a soft goal on Brett Clark’s backhander from a bad angle — a puck he has to stop. At that point, it was basically lights out on the first game of the series.

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One Day After Boston Appearance, ‘Teach Me How To Dougie’ Rapper Killed

Published May 17, 2011

M-Bone (far right) of Cali Swag District, was killed in a drive-by shooting on Sunday night in Inglewood, Calif. The other members of the group, from left to right: Jay Are, C Smoove and Yung. (Courtesy of EMI)

One day after making an appearance in Dorchester, one of the members of hip-hop group Cali Swag District was killed in a drive-by shooting in Inglewood, Calif.

The 22-year-old Montae Talbert, also known as M-Bone, was the main dancer in the group. He died Sunday night. The four group members were in Dorchester on Friday and Saturday for a scheduled appearance at the Chez Vous skating rink.

[youtube url=”nzx_78KExwQ”]

The group’s popular ‘Teach Me How to Dougie’ song brought back the famous dance of rap legend Doug E. Fresh — everyone from first lady Michelle Obama to Justin Beiber have danced to the song. As NPR reports, the dance craze has been viewed over 50 million times on YouTube.

Tuesday Morning: Brown’s Budget Support Draws Fire

Published May 17, 2011

After supporting the GOP budget proposal, Sen. Scott Brown’s stance on Medicare is coming under critics’ fire. The plan would transform Medicare into a voucher system.

The chief of staff for Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo takes the stand today in the federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi. Yesterday, prosecutors tried to show that DiMasi had money problems when he was the leader of the House.

The Winklevoss twins are taking their suit against the founder of Facebook to the Supreme Court. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss allege that Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg lied about the value of the company in the settlement of a 2008 lawsuit the twins brought against the social media giant.

Two-thirds of the Boston-based ’80s indie band Galaxie 500 are still touring together. Damon & Naomi have a new album out today.

So, this is the Adrian Gonzalez we were told to expect. The big-swinging first baseman continued to lead the team’s resurgence last night, belting a ninth-inning walkoff two-run double.

The Bruins will look to even their playoff series with the Lightning at one game apiece tonight at the Garden. Many pundits say that rookie Tyler Seguin will have to make his presence felt for the team to notch a win.

What we’re following: We’ll continue to report on developments in the DiMasi trial, the Boston-based journalists that could soon be freed from Libya and the burial of an Auburn man who was killed in Afghanistan. Radio Boston will talk about a taboo issue that affects many — sex after cancer treatments.

Bradley Manning Supporter Sues Government

Published May 13, 2011


Members of the Bradley Manning Support Network march in a protest against Manning's detention in March. (K_Young_NYC/Flickr)

An MIT researcher who has vocally supported WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning filed a lawsuit today, alleging the government illegally searched him and seized confidential information.

David House, an MIT researcher and founding member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit, which claims the government seized House’s laptop and video camera last year.

In November, the Department of Homeland Security detained House at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and questioned him about his association with Manning and the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks, according to the suit, which further claims two DHS officials confiscated House’s laptop, thumb drive and video camera.

“The seizure of my laptop had a very chilling effect on the activities of The Bradley Manning Support Network,” House told WBUR. “[It has] silenced people working [for the the group] and sent many of our donors into retreat.”

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