Live Blog: DiMasi Found Guilty On Corruption Charges

Published June 15, 2011

The News: A federal jury found former Speaker Sal DiMasi guilty in an scheme to steer state contracts in exchange for kickbacks. His accountant, Richard Vitale, was found not guilty on eight charges. An associate, Richard McDonough, a lobbyist, was convicted on six of eight charges.

(Read the full story here.)

The defense table reacts as the verdicts are read by Judge Mark Wolf. (Margaret Small for WBUR)

The defense table reacts as the verdicts are read by Judge Mark Wolf. (Margaret Small for WBUR)

Update 6:45 p.m.: We’re closing the live blog for the evening. Morning Edition tomorrow will have plenty more coverage, including reaction to the former speaker’s conviction at the State House and in his North End district.

Update 6:06 p.m.: “Men of conviction” — that’s the dialogue bubble on the Globe’s verdict cartoon, which places DiMasi next to former Speakers Tom Finneran and Charles Flaherty.

Update 5:40 p.m.: WBUR’s David Boeri, who’s covered this whole thing from the beginning, called this a “devastating conviction” for DiMasi. He offered this debrief last hour:

Update 5:06 p.m.: DiMasi’s attorney, Tom Kiley, provides a clearer indication of his appeal strategy. He says government misrepresented the payments that his client received as a lawyer:

It involves the practice of law and one’s entitlements to work. It presents, as the court said, novel issues, and we will be pursuing those issues until everybody gets it right.

Update 4:27 p.m.: DiMasi and his team were eating lunch, trying to kill time, when word came that Judge Mark Wolf wanted to see them in the courtroom, the Globe’s Glen Johnson reported.

Leaving behind half-eaten lunches, half-drunk bottles of water, half-read newspapers, the group moved toward the elevators, uncertain of the reason.

It’s a lunch DiMasi will never forget.

Update 4:21 p.m.: “I’m very disappointed … I’m still in shock,” DiMasi told the Herald. The paper also has video of the former House speaker speaking with reporters outside the courtroom.

Update 4:10 p.m.: WBUR’s Jesse Costa has this graphic on the specific charges:

Click the image below for the full graphic.

Update 3:52 p.m.: More from legal analyst Randy Chapman, as he’ll join us on All Things Considered later on:

Chapman says the “theft of honest services charge” is likely to be the issue that will percolate in appeals, perhaps all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Update 3:15 p.m.: U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz says jurors realized DiMasi was seduced by his power:

You get that kind of power, you start to believe you’re above the law. But clearly he is not.

Update 2:23 p.m.: From Washington, Sen. Scott Brown released a statement:

The facts of this case should be disturbing to everyone who rightly wants and expects honest service from their elected officials.

Update 2:16 p.m.: Speaking with reporters, Gov. Deval Patrick called today a sad day:

The work I do and the work my team does has always been of the highest integrity, mindful that we work for the general public and not for ourselves.

Update 2:10 p.m.: Randy Chapman, a criminal defense attorney and past president of the Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, spoke with WBUR about the DiMasi case:

The violations and extortion were the counts driving this case. They only needed a conviction on some of those counts, the rest was just window dressing. I think the evidence that the government mounted was compelling and really overwhelming. … I think the jury knew that what he was doing was just not right.

Update 1:59 p.m.: When WBUR’s David Boeri asked DiMasi if he had any second thoughts, the former House speaker responded defiantly:

I was a legislator who did the best I could and I made a lot of good decisions. And I helped a lot of people. I would never have any second thoughts of running for office again.

Update 1:54 p.m.: The State House News Service (@statehousenews) tweets:

DiMasi case Judge Mark Wolf: “This is perhaps the best tried criminal case I’ve ever conducted.”

Update 1:51 p.m.: State Senate President Therese Murray just released a statement on the trial.

“The verdict highlights the misconduct of one person, and one person’s betrayal of the public trust,” the statement said, in part. “This is not how we do business in the Commonwealth and in this institution.”

Update 1:48 p.m.: DiMasi just spoke in front of the courtroom. Here’s some of what he said:

“I still believe that they’ve never had enough evidence at the beginning or at the end of that case with respect to a jury — a reasonable juror coming to a conclusion — that there could be a guilty finding in this. I believe that they didn’t prove their case.”

Update 1:38 p.m.: The Globe’s Milton Valencia (@MiltonValencia) tweeted that Judge Mark Wolf wants to restrict DiMasi’s travel outside of Massachusetts prior to the August sentencing. The defense asked that DiMasi be allowed to travel throughout New England and the judge agreed. But, without prior permission from the court, DiMasi will be restricted to New England.

Update 1:32 p.m.: WBUR’s David Boeri is at the courthouse. Here are some nuggets from him:

  • The jurors came back in surprisingly quick fashion (considering the jurors’ instructions were 65 pages long.)
  • The defense fully expects to go to appeal. But for Vitale, it’s over, as he’s acquitted.

Update 1:28 p.m.: State House News Service’s Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) tweets:

Sentencing hearing set tentatively for Aug. 18, 11 a.m.

Update 1:23 p.m. Current Speaker Robert DeLeo has this statement:

“Today’s news delivers a powerful blow to the public’s trust in government. I don’t think I can imagine anything more damaging than the idea that the defendant’s conduct was nothing other than ‘business as usual’ on Beacon Hill. This was definitely not business as usual – and it is a slur on every hardworking public servant to suggest otherwise.

“One of the things that I find most disturbing – and the thing I am most committed to changing – is the public’s view of politicians and public sector employees. This conviction makes that job no easier.

“What came out at trial was deeply troubling. I feel angry and disappointed.

“Given the cumulative effect of recent cases of public corruption, I understand the negative feelings many have for public officials right now. That is something we are working to change. Our efforts over the past couple of years have been focused on government reforms that make our work and our decisions more transparent and ensure that we can be held accountable for what we do on behalf of the taxpaying public.

“As we move away from this verdict – in our actions and in our deeds – we will work to restore the public’s faith that public servants can be counted on to work for the greater good. I intend to lead by example.

Update 1:15: Fellow associate Richard McDonough was found guilty on six of eight charges.

Update 12:59: The AP courthouse dispatch includes this DiMasi reaction:

A visibly distraught DiMasi turned to hug his crying wife and stepdaughter after the verdict was read Wednesday.

Update 12:56: One of DiMasi co-defendants, Richard Vitale, was found not guilty on all counts. According to Johnson’s tweets, he is being released from custody now.

Update 12:53:
According to Johnson’s tweets:

Guilty on counts: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 and 9
Not guilty on counts: 4 and 5

Update 12:49: From the AP:

BOSTON (AP) – Federal jury convicts ex-Massachusetts speaker Salvatore DiMasi in contract scheme.

Update 12:45: The Globe’s Glen Johnson tweets that the jury has reached a verdict:

Most notably, according to Johnson’s tweets, the jury came back with guilty verdicts for DiMasi on multiple counts.


Original Post: Jurors in the federal corruption trial of former Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi and two associates have reached a verdict.